The Chicago Sun-Times previews the Art Institute’s Modern Wing which opens this week after a decade of planning and $300 million of funding:
The building — with its double-height entrance courtyard, and an east and west pavilion whose three levels are connected by vast, floating glass stairways (in homage to Mies van der Rohe’s iconic staircase at the Arts Club of Chicago) — are organized as follows:
• • First Floor: Entrance for ticketing and coat check; the new Ryan Education Center for school and family programs; a special exhibitions gallery (opening with a Cy Twombley exhibit); a space devoted to film, video and new media; an expanded photography gallery, and a garden.
• • Second Floor: Galleries devoted to architecture and design, to contemporary art from 1945-1960 and to contemporary art after 1960.
• • Third Floor: Galleries for the museum’s stellar collection of European modern art from 1900-1950, as well as an upscale, 140-seat restaurant named Terzo Piano, helmed by chef Tony Mantuano of Spiaggia fame. An outdoor sculpture terrace and access to the Nichols Bridgeway also are on this level.
“Leading the way into the European modern art galleries on the third level is ‘The Old Guitarist,’ Picasso’s 1903 Blue Period painting,” said Douglas Druick, who, with Stephanie D’Alessandro, has curated this part of the collection.
“This work kicks off the century, and Picasso’s career. We then move on to include all the developments in Cubism. The final work is a return to Picasso with his 1959 canvas ‘Nude Under a Pine Tree.’
“About one-third of the paintings in the collection have had old varnish removed, and about a fourth of the works have been reframed,” said Alessandro. “I think the new presentation of the Surrealists, a very strong part of the Art Institute’s collection, will be a revelation. And the installation of Brancusi’s sculpture is ideal — with all the works brought together so you get a suggestion of the creativity in his Paris atelier.”
Growing in Style (Chicago Sun-Times)