Marc Chagall’s America Windows Review – Welcome Back

On my way to the unveiling of the Marc Chagall’s America Windows, I was surprised to see many changes since my last visit to the Art Institute of Chicago. I was puzzled when I noticed a long line of people waiting to get in and then I realized they were waiting for the free admission at 5:00 o’clock, this being Thursday. (Friday evening is also free.)  How wonderful to share the offerings of the Art Institute of Chicago with the city.
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Walking toward the Columbus Avenue part of the museum, I noticed the stairs  leading to the second floor, glittering with inspiring words.  Stairs and stairs filled with words and words-of faith, healing and more.
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I stopped for a quick visit in the Richard and Mary L. Gray Wing, and was amazed at what I saw. Over the past 45 years, Richard Gray, one of America's foremost modern and contemporary art dealers, and his wife, art historian and author Mary Lackritz Gray, have gathered a remarkable collection representing seven centuries of creativity.  This is the first time their collection has been exhibited. (It will be in place until January 2, 2011.) The Richard and Mary L. Gray Wing (Galleries 124-127) is featuring 121 works from the 15th through the 21st centuries—from Francesco Salviati through Vincent van Gogh and David Hockney—including a generous promised gift of nine works to the museum's Department of Prints and Drawings. These works were so interesting I knew I needed to return and take more time for in-depth viewing.

Bearded Man with His Right Arm Raised Giuseppe Porta, called Giuseppe Salviati. 1562/64. Promised gift of Richard and Mary L. Gray and the Gray Collection Trust. Photo-Art Institute


As lifelong Chicagoans who are deeply involved in the cultural life of city, the Grays have devoted more than half a century to pursuits associated with the visual arts. Theirs is an amazing story of professional and personal collecting.
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Walking through the grand hall, I remembered walking through collections of armor and swords years ago but now items from Southeast Asia fill this space. The “Chagall Windows” would be at the end of this section. That was prior to May 2005 when they were removed to protect them during the construction of the museum’s Modern Wing.  Continuing, I turned down the hall leading to the old Stock Exchange room passing through the collection of beautiful exotic Islamic art.
 

The band created a festive air



Before the unveiling



I entered the area where the unveiling was to take place.  Excitement was in the air, a small band was playing and drinks were offered, the prelude to a dinner for the Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute.  Looking around the room I saw models and maquettes from the earliest moment of the modern cultural renaissance in the city's center--works by such artists as Jean Dubuffet, Joan Miro, Pablo Picasso-- are in the collection of the Art Institute, and are connected to the historical inception of Chagall's gift. The model for Alexander Calder's Flamingo (c. 1975), is the only one on loan and is from the Fine Arts Program, Public Buildings Service, U.S. General Services Administration. And there were the windows, veiled.

Model for Pablo Picasso's sculpture



Model for Jean Dubuffet's sculpture



The model for Alexander Calder's Flamingo



The windows, veiled



During their five-year absence, Marc Chagall's America Windows have been missed.  They are a most beloved treasure in the museum's collection and are enthusiastically welcomed back.
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These monumental panels of stained glass commemorating the American Bicentennial were created by Chagall especially for the Art Institute in honor of Chicago's Mayor Richard J. Daley (1902-1976), and have been enjoyed by millions of visitors since they were originally dedicated on May 15, 1977.  Curators and conservators were able to work extensively on the windows during the five years to clean, examine, restore, and research Chagall's masterpiece.
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Chagall designed the America Windows expressly for the Art Institute and created them in collaboration with the French stained-glass artist Charles Marq. Marq fabricated 36 colored glass panels to Chagall's specifications, and Chagall himself painted his design onto the glass using metallic oxide paints that were permanently fused to the glass through a subsequent heating process. The windows, measuring more than eight feet in height and more than 30 feet in width, are each made up of three parts, each with 12 separate sections. The images on the panels are unmistakably from the hand of Chagall, who infused his landscape of familiar American icons, references to Chicago, and symbols of the fine arts with an ethereality that suggests the creative expansiveness made possible by American freedom and liberty. After the America Windows were created, Marq installed the artwork in the Art Institute's Gallery 150, the Marc Chagall Gallery, overlooking McKinlock Court. The Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute donated the gallery space.

Mrs. Daley and Mayor Daley are greeted


Before the unveiling, Jim Cuno, President and Eloise W. Martin, Director spoke, as did Mayor Daley and Mrs. Daley.  The connection Chicagoans have to these beautiful windows was the topic.  Mayor Daley said that Chicago boasts 700 pieces of public art.  Maggie Daley started the Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute of Chicago and it was her request to Chagall for posters that lead to the windows. Another guest was introduced, Marc Chagall's granddaughter, Bella Meyer. The audience quieted as the curtains were opened and we saw the windows with light shining through- in their glory.

Eloise W. Martin, Director



Jim Cuno, President



Major funding for the America Windows was originally provided by The City of Chicago, with a substantial supplementary sum also given by the Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute. Acquisition of the windows was a project of The City of Chicago and the Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute. The reinstallation of Marc Chagall's America Windows is generously sponsored by a grant from the Walter E. Heller Foundation in memory of Alyce DeCosta.

The windows, unveiled



Marc Chagall's granddaughter, Bella Meyer, and Mayor Daley




Web:
www.artinstituteofchicago.org
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@artinstitutechi
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MUSEUM HOURS
10:30 am-5:00 pm Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday
10:30 am-8:00 pm Thursday, Friday
10:30 am-5:00 pm Saturday, Sunday
TARGET FREE THURSDAY EVENINGS AFTER 5:00 pm
Closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day.
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ADMISSION
Adults $18.00 Includes all special exhibitions
Children 14 and over, students, and seniors $12.00 Includes all special exhibitions
Chicago residents receive a $2.00 discount with proof of residency
Children under 14 always free
Members always free
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Free Evenings are free to all. City of Chicago residents with Chicago Public Library cards can borrow a "Museum Passport" card from any library branch for free general admission to the nine members of Museums in the Park, including the Art Institute of Chicago.

Photos: B. Keer
        
        
        
 
                                
                                
                                        
                                
                                
                                        
                                
                                
                                        
 
       
       
       
 
                               
                               
                                       
                               
                               
                                       
                               
                               
                                       
                               
                               
 
                                       
                               
                               
                                       
                               
                               
                                       
                               
                       
               
               
       

                       
                                     
                              
                                        
                                
                                
                                        
                                
                                
                                     

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