Beginning August 1, Art on theMART, the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, will project four iconic artworks from the Art Institute of Chicago’s permanent collection across the 2.5 acre river-façade of theMART (formerly Merchandise Mart). The artworks, Georgia O’Keeffe’s Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy, Georges-Pierre Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, Vincent van Gogh’s The Bedroom and Grant Wood’s American Gothic will join the current Summer Program, which is on view for two hours nightly beginning approximately 30 minutes after sunset. The partnership enables these masterpieces to be seen by the thousands of locals and visitors traversing downtown Chicago and the Chicago Riverwalk each evening.
“We are honored to work with the Art Institute of Chicago to offer unprecedented access to four beloved, yet transformed, works from the permanent collection,” said Art on theMART Executive Director Cynthia Noble. “This collaboration exemplifies the mission of our program, which is, in part, to provide a public art platform for leading cultural institutions and artists to create engaging new media experiences for all visitors.”
“The Art Institute is thrilled to share some of our most iconic works with the city through our partnership with theMART- a landmark architectural site and a new platform for public art in Chicago,” said Robyn Farrell, Art Institute of Chicago Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art. “Our collaboration with Art on theMART provides an exciting opportunity to engage residents and visitors within the city's vibrant landscape.”
About the Artworks
Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy by Georgia O’Keeffe (1928)
In the 1920s, Georgia O’Keeffe began concentrating on representing enlarged still-life elements with carefully realistic handling. Although known more for her flower paintings, she frequently depicted leaves, inspired by the examples she found on her walks around Lake George in upstate New York, where she summered with her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, between 1918 and 1928. In Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy, O’Keeffe painted the leaves around the small white daisy at lower center so that they seem to be emanating from the flower. She hoped that the strangely magnified subjects would inspire viewers to, as she said, “be surprised into taking time to look at” them in a new way.
Photo credit: Georgia O’Keeffe. Yellow Hickory Leaves with Daisy, 1928. Alfred Stieglitz Collection, gift of Georgia O’Keeffe. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.
A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884 by Georges-Pierre Seurat (1884-9)
“Bedlam,” “scandal” and “hilarity” were among the epithets used to describe what is now considered Georges Seurat’s greatest work, and one of the most remarkable paintings of the nineteenth century, when it was first exhibited in Paris. Seurat labored extensively over A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, reworking the original as well as completing numerous preliminary drawings and oil sketches (the Art Institute has one such sketch and two drawings). With what resembles scientific precision, the artist tackled the issues of color, light and form. Inspired by research in optical and color theory, he juxtaposed tiny dabs of colors that, through optical blending, form a single and, he believed, more brilliantly luminous hue. To make the experience of the painting even more intense, he surrounded the canvas with a frame of painted dashes and dots, which he, in turn, enclosed with a pure white wood frame, similar to the one with which the painting is exhibited today. The very immobility of the figures and the shadows they cast makes them forever silent and enigmatic. Like all great master-pieces, La Grande Jatte continues to fascinate and elude.
Photo credit: Georges-Pierre Seurat, French, 1859-1891. A Sunday on La Grande Jatte—1884, 1884–86, painted border 1888/89. The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.
The Bedroom by Vincent van Gogh (1889)
Vincent van Gogh so highly esteemed his bedroom painting that he made three distinct versions: the first, now in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam; the second, belonging to the Art Institute of Chicago, painted a year later on the same scale and almost identical; and a third, smaller canvas in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay, Paris, which he made as a gift for his mother and sister. Van Gogh conceived the first Bedroom in October 1888, a month after he moved into his “Yellow House” in Arles, France. This moment marked the first time the artist had a home of his own, and he had immediately and enthusiastically set about decorating, painting a suite of canvases to fill the walls. Completely exhausted from the effort, he spent two-and-a-half days in bed and was then inspired to create a painting of his bedroom. As he wrote to his brother Theo, “It amused me enormously doing this bare interior. With a simplicity à la Seurat. In ﬂat tints, but coarsely brushed in full impasto, the walls pale lilac, the ﬂoor in a broken and faded red, the chairs and the bed chrome yellow, the pillows and the sheet very pale lemon green, the bedspread blood-red, the dressing-table orange, the washbasin blue, the window green. I had wished to express utter repose with all these very different tones.” Although the picture symbolized relaxation and peace to the artist, to our eyes the canvas seems to teem with nervous energy, instability and turmoil, an effect heightened by the sharply receding perspective.
Photo credit: Vincent van Gogh. The Bedroom, 1889. Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.
American Gothic by Grant Wood (1930)
This familiar image was exhibited publicly for the first time at the Art Institute of Chicago, winning a three-hundred-dollar prize and instant fame for Grant Wood. The impetus for the painting came while Wood was visiting the small town of Eldon in his native Iowa. There he spotted a little wood farmhouse, with a single oversized window, made in a style called Carpenter Gothic. “I imagined American Gothic people with their faces stretched out long to go with this American Gothic house,” he said. He used his sister and his dentist as models for a farmer and his daughter, dressing them as if they were “tintypes from my old family album.” The highly detailed, polished style and the rigid frontality of the two figures were inspired by Flemish Renaissance art, which Wood studied during his travels to Europe between 1920 and 1928. After returning to settle in Iowa, he became increasingly appreciative of midwestern traditions and culture, which he celebrated in works such as this. American Gothic, often understood as a satirical comment on the midwestern character, quickly became one of America’s most famous paintings and is now firmly entrenched in the nation’s popular culture. Yet Wood intended it to be a positive statement about rural American values, an image of reassurance at a time of great dislocation and disillusionment. The man and woman, in their solid and well-crafted world, with all their strengths and weaknesses, represent survivors.
Photo credit: Grant Wood, American, 1891-1942. American Gothic, 1930. The Art Institute of Chicago. Friends of American Art Collection.
About the Art Institute of Chicago
The Art Institute of Chicago is the only museum in the world to be top-ranked by TripAdvisor six years in a row. Home to over 300,000 works of art from across the centuries and around the world, the Art Institute of Chicago has something for everyone. Find iconic works by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Edward Hopper, Georgia O’Keeffe, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman—along with lesser-known treasures that will soon become favorites. Immerse yourself in an audio tour, create a customized family adventure, or simply find a gallery bench and sit in the presence of the greats. Round out your visit with a stop in one of the museum’s cafés and gift shops. For more information, visit https://www.artic.edu/.
theMART (formerly The Merchandise Mart), located in the center of the sought-after River North submarket, is interwoven into the fabric of Chicago as an innovator in business, technology, culture, art, media and more. As the largest privately owned commercial building in the United States, it is also one of the world’s leading commercial buildings, wholesale design centers and the preeminent international business location in Chicago. Encompassing 4.2 million gross square feet, theMART spans two city blocks, rises 25 stories, and is visited by an average of 30,000 people each business day and nearly 10 million people annually. Offering continuous innovation and creativity from leading manufacturers and design forward showrooms, theMART serves as the home to Chicago's most creative and technologically innovative companies including Motorola Mobility, 1871, Yelp, PayPal and MATTER, as well as Fortune 500 companies ConAgra, Allstate, Kellogg, Beam Suntory and Grainger. For more information, visit http://themart.com/.
About Art on theMART
Art on theMART is the largest permanent digital art projection in the world, projecting contemporary artwork across the 2.5 acre river-façade of theMART. This expansive permanent piece of public art continues Chicago’s legacy of providing both residents and visitors with exceptional art that is both free and accessible to all. Projections are visible to the public from Wacker Drive and along the Chicago Riverwalk two hours a night for ten months of the year (March – December), beginning approximately 30 minutes after sundown. The projections are regularly on view five nights a week from Wednesday – Sunday, with expanded nightly viewing from May 13 – September 30, 2019.
The program content rotates every season and is selected with the assistance and expertise of the Curatorial Advisory Board. The City of Chicago and theMART work in partnership to manage and curate the projected artwork over the course of a 30-year agreement. Privately funded by Vornado Realty Trust, owner of theMART, Art on theMART marks the first time a projection of its size and scope will be completely dedicated to digital art with no branding, sponsorship credits or messaging. The permanent projection system illuminates theMART with 34 state-of-the-art projectors totaling almost one million lumens. For more information, visit www.artonthemart.com.