Art highlights of 2011 range from the 100 Forbidden City treasures that filled the Milwaukee Art Museum’s special exhibition space to the 150 huge Tass propaganda posters boldly displayed in the Art Institute of Chicago’s exhibition hall.
The year also called attention to photography as a record and as an art form in a best of Ansel Adams exhibit at the Lake County Discovery Museum, as part of the Iain Baxter& exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art and in the current Art Institute Exhibit: Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph. Indeed, Light Years also includes works by Iain Baxter&.
The year 2011 also saw Art Institute President and Director James Cuneo leave in June to take up that post at the J. Paul Getty Trust and museum curator Douglas Druick step into the position first as acting director and then as director in August.
Although some of them are history, it is not too late to catch three of the year’s memorable exhibits. Just know that two of them leave in January.
Classic Images: Photography by Ansel Adams which opened at the Lake County Discovery Museum mid-September is only up through Jan. 8, 2012. The exhibit features 70 photos from the collection of daughter Anne Adams Helms, that were hand-printed by Adams (1902-1984) and chosen by him to represent his work.
Iain Baxter&: Works 1958-2011, opened Nov. 5 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, continues just through Jan. 15, 2012. Baxter& (the ampersand is legally part of the artist’s name) is about the environment, a changing world and common objects that intrigue the artist.
Light Years: Conceptual Art and the Photograph 1964-1977, now at the Art Institute of Chicago, opened mid-December and goes through March 11, 2012. The exhibit showcases photography that put a new spin on recording everyday events and photography that connected to other art forms such as sculpture, film, literature and paintings.
Past but not forgotten
Windows on the War: Soviet Tass Posters at Home and Abroad 1941-1945, at the Art Institute in September through most of October, was not your usual fine art exhibit. Instead it featured poster art with political messages.
When The Emperor’s Private Paradise: Treasures from the Forbidden City closed Sept. 11, 2011 at the Milwaukee Art Museum, the treasures returned to China. However, while on loan to MAM for the summer visitors had a peak at the lifestyle and passions of 18th century Emperor Qianlong (1736-1796). The objects: paintings, furniture, screens, jades and figures, came from the 27 buildings in the Forbidden City.
Kings, Queens and Courtiers: Art in Early Renaissance France, at the Art Institute of Chicago March through May, featured tapestries, stained glass, illuminated books, sculptures and treasured religious objects. But the exhibit was also about art centers, architecture and influences beyond the French border.