The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago


Not quite the full picture of this spacious building but an impression for virtual visitors – you could, of course, visit the web site and never move from the living room chair ( if you have a lap top) – if this is you preference the ignore the following and visit !

I am not going to try and describe the totality of the experience but only one discovery. It was very crowded on a Saturday morning. I was feeling a tad pleased with myself of having negotiated the transport system and treated myself to a very small cooked breakfast ( and another conversation with a waiter abot Iraq). To escape the crowds I take the stairs to the seond floor – which is infact the first floor but here they call the ground floor the first floor – confused? Indeed – anyway I fall over the section of paintings called Expressionism. In particular I am drown to the work of Vasily Kandinsky. A Russian who lived from 1866 to 1944. Look at this piece:

   These artists take seriously the state of the human condition and paint to try and give expression to our experience. These artists give shape and colour to the inner core of our condition aware of its subjective and contradictory shape. There is for them, and us, symbolic shape and importance to colour and forms and they have the power to access and shape memory. The preparedness to dig deep and give substance to our experience out of chaos seems to make these paintings have a contemporary relevance to 21st Century life.

The viewer struggles to see what is being represented – there is surprise and dissonance in the rich canvas. Here is another piece:


This is not a rational exercise of the head – it evokes an emotional response. Kandinsky used the parallel of his art with creating a piece of music. He wrote

‘Colour is the keyboard, the eyes are the hammer and the soul is the piano with strings.’   This kind of work challenges us all to think about the way the world around us is shaping us for good and ill. It demands that we pay attention and go beyond the surface to explore our emotions so that we can be taken into a deeper wisdom and so grow.

I am reminded of the music of Arnold Schoenberg – full of surprises and discordant notes but expressive of a freedom and mystery that opens up different perspectives.


To my surprise there is a short book in the extensive retail outlet – which, sadly seems to excite the visitors more than the gallery of amazing art – by Kandinsky entitled Concerning the Spiritual in Art and at $ 5.00 (£2.50) it is my best buy of the sabbatical.

The cultural and spiritual life of any nation is always enhanced by its commitment to the Arts. And there are possibilities in small places like Temple Balsall too!!

 Back to Brent House and to the ironing – and down to a very different sort of art……. and not one which I have mastered.         Enjoy Sunday.






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