Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky. (slithytove) wrote,
Be wise. Be brave. Be tricky.

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Art Institute of Chicago

I visited the Art Institute of Chicago a couple of weeks ago, during a six-hour layover in Chicago during my train trip across the country. I had never been there, although I've been on their catalog mailing list for more than a decade, for some reason. Very interesting experience. They have a nice collection of Chinese ceramics, some very ancient, and a very decent collection of European and American works from the Renaissance to the present.

Much of the stuff in the Contemporary American Art area was very strange. One of the installations/art works was a pile of cellophane-wrapped hard candies that was heaped into a corner of the room. The description on the wall stated that the number of candies represented the approximate weight at death, in pounds, of one of the artist's friends, who died of AIDS. Visitors were invited to take a piece: the artist said that the candies would be replenished regularly by him. Interesting idea. Sort of like a 'Please Touch' thing, connecting the visitor with the artwork, the artist, and the person memorialized. I didn't take a piece of candy (I'm not sure why, squeamishness about HIV, possibly -- it amounted symbolically to eating a piece of the body of a person with AIDS, a communion a little bit too weird and intimate for me), but as I watched, another visitor did.

Then a museum guard gave him trouble for it. The guard apparently didn't know what was going on, and hadn't read the museum's explanation of the piece. "Don't eat the artworks!"

Does a pile of candy in the corner really qualify as 'art'? I dunno, but it was a very interesting and ingenious idea, and I'll give it a pass as 'art' for now.

Elsewhere in the Institute, I got to see Grant Wood's original 'American Gothic' and Hopper's 'Nighthawks', both iconic in the American cultural/pop cultural space. I really do love Hopper. His paintings have a terrific solidity and simplicity about them. What Hemmingway was to prose, Hopper was to painting. And they both fl. at about the same time, too.

meaning: noon, daytime
ohiru == noon, noon meal
chuushoku == lunch
Top radical is 'feet', middle radical is 'sun'. Henshall suggests imagining the bottom radical as the horizon, and remembering this kanji by: 'Measure in feet noon sun over horizon'.


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