Archive for Charles May

morning at the Art Institvte

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , on November 4, 2012 by xi'an

After a brisk morning run along the Lake Michigan shore (in a freezing wind), I took the opportunity of a delayed flight to visit the Art Institute of Chicago, a museum I remembered from my first visit in 1987, not only for the fair amount of impressionist pieces, but also because of a temporary exhibit of the haunting pieces of Anselm Kiefer. This time, I again spent some time in the Monet rooms, esp. the haystack series, and then explored the modern section of which I had no lasting memory.

This is where I saw this magnificient sculpture by Charles Ray, entitled Hinoki, a reconstituted oak log he once saw lying in a meadow. I spent some time circling the trunck, looking at the details and the whole perspective. One may wonder why this sculpting version of Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote, is of such deep interest: first, dead logd/trees often have an ascetic beauty of their own, having shed leaves and bark, and turning slowly from the vegetal to the mineral. (Had I a large enough house, I would certainly try to install some composition of beach logs inside the house!) Second, this is a true sculpture in which Charles Ray did carve a piece or rather several pieces of cypress into his vision of a dead tree, whose meaning is completely different from the original object. At last, the sculptor worked with Japanese carpenter masters on this creation, woodworkers specialised in the maintenance and renovation of Japanese wooden temples, where all the wood beams that make them are progressively changed over the centuries, in the same paradox of being the same structure while having lost all of its components…

Apart from this great sculpture, and among many other great paintings, I discovered the following painting by Lyonel Feininger, almost cartoonesque in its representation of this Norman village scene. And hope to be back in this great museum in less than 25 years! (In an interesting coincidence, I saw the Hopper classic, Nighthawks, that was missing in Chicago in Paris as it is part of the terrific exhibit on Hopper’s career at Grand Palais!)