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The best of French in Chicago: Picasso and Chicago exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago

Aimee Thompson - Picasso

When I visited France last summer, I was sorry to learn that the Musée Picasso was closed for renovations. The museum, located in a palatial 17th-century mansion in the Marais district, houses one of the most extensive collections of works by Pablo Picasso.

The Musée Picasso closed its doors a few years ago, and is scheduled to reopen to the public at the end of this year. While this is incredible news for Parisians and visitors to the City of Light, I could only take it as a sign that I just wasn’t meant to view the massive collection of masterpieces by the Spanish-born artist who spent most of his adult years in France. That’s why I was so glad to learn about a special exhibition of Picasso’s works planned for my hometown of Chicago.

Aimee Thompson - Picasso 2

French artwork on display in Chicago

Today, Chicago residents and visitors alike can enjoy the Picasso and Chicago exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago (111 S. Michigan Avenue). The show, which runs through to May 12, 2013, showcases more than 250 of the finest examples of the artist’s paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings and ceramics from private collections in Chicago, as well as the Art Institute of Chicago’s own collection.

Aimee Thompson - Picasso 3

Together, the works of art weave a visual historic tapestry of Picasso’s career and his artistic connection to Chicago.

Celebrating a century-long relationship

The exhibition is part of the Art Institute of Chicago’s celebration of the 100-year relationship between Picasso and Chicago, which began when the Institute became the first art museum in the U.S. to present Picasso’s works in 1913.

As well as the artist’s work itself, various installations are on display throughout the museum’s galleries. Visitors can also enjoy special programs, lectures, gallery talks and family studio sessions.

A place for Picasso in the heart of Chicago

Picasso has long maintained a visual presence at the very heart of the city. In 1967, an untitled sculpture by the artist, now known as the Chicago Picasso, was erected in Daley Plaza across from City Hall. It was the first such major public artwork in downtown Chicago.

Aimee Thompson - Picasso 4For more than more than 46 years, the cubist sculpture has kept careful watch over the city, witnessing its vibrant and storied growth, and graced the photos of the many people who pass by it each day.

It is only fitting that this prominent sculpture is one of the focal points in announcing the new Picasso in Chicago exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, and celebrating the artist’s ties to the Windy City. The base of the sculpture is now adorned with letters that spell out the famed artist’s name.

These days, I am content to relish the wonders of Picasso’s artistic genius, his ties to Paris and Chicago, and his masterpieces that hang in the halls of the Art Institute. And I feel comfort and pride in the fact that this great artist’s work continues to surround us here in Chicago.

Have you been to the Picasso and Chicago exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago? If so, what was your favorite piece?

Or, if not, do you plan to visit soon? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Image credits:
1 & 4. Aimee Thompson
2. ‘The Red Armchair’ by Pablo Picasso, courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago
3. North View of Michigan Avenue Façade, courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago


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