Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chagall Windows are Back at the Art Institute in Chicago

After five years out of sight, one of the Art Institute of Chicago's most popular works is back.
Belarusian artist Marc Chagall's "America Windows," dismantled in 2005 for safe keeping during the lengthy, vibration-heavy construction of the Modern Wing, reopens to the public.
Remember Ferris, Cameron, and Sloane's escapade into Chicago circa-1986?
It's hard to forget Ferris Bueller’s Day Off , and now a set of stained glass windows that figured into that trio's Art Institute trip are back in Chicago's conscience.
Chagall gave the deep cobalt blue windows to the Art Institute in 1977 to commemorate the American Bicentennial in honor of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley who died in 1976. The work is a nod to Chicago's support of public art in the '60s and '70s and features six panels depicting freedom of expression. Chagall came to stained glass just around his 70th birthday and continued until he reached 85 years when he had become truly excited with this new experience and his genuine love for the windows is most touchingly related by himself in numerous publications.
"I think we naturally respond to color," Douglas W. Druick, the museum's Searle Curator and chair of the Department of Medieval to Modern European Painting and Sculpture said. "Not only does one read the stained glass as a two-dimensional experience in windows, but one is brought into the art by the light spilling through the glass and bringing color into the room in which you're experiencing it."
But even that experience can be marred over time. After nearly 30 years on view overlooking McKinlock Court, the glass windows, subject to slight condensation, had attracted atmospheric deposits of oil and calcium carbonate, which appeared as a sheer white film dulling their filtered, colored light. Just as a dirty windshield acts as a screen from light, Druick said, the brilliance of colors in Chagall's windows was being muted.
Seizing on the opportunity provided by the 36-paneled windows' removal during the lengthy construction, the museum's conservation staff investigated various methods of cleaning, and, beginning about two years ago, the restorative work began. Associate Conservator Emily Heye was at the helm.
"Imagine large Q-tips and lots of time spent carefully rinsing after the fact," Heye explained via telephone of one of the steps of the cleaning process. Simultaneous to Heye's immaculate restorative work, a new exhibition space was designed and constructed for the windows in the east end of the museum's Arthur Rubloff building. Now reinstalled and framed tightly in the way that Chagall had intended, which Druick says "focuses on the windows in a particular way," the windows are ready for the museum's busy holiday season.

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From Breaking News Chicago -

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