2006 Aug 20, 3:35am

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A Trip to the Art Institute of Chicago

On a recent trip to Chicago we spent several hours in the Art Institute viewing our favorite paintings, and seeing some wonderful, recent acquisitions. It had been a long time since our last visit there – too long, really, maybe two, perhaps three years – and it was an interesting experience. Much of the American art collection had been rearranged, and the place had that weird, alien-yet-familiar feel at first.

In The Sea by Arnold Bocklin (detail)

I say it was an interesting experience because, from my perspective, I knew I would be viewing these pieces through eyes which have been changed by personal study, and through experience as a painter over the past few years. My hope was to see new things, new techniques, and expanded artistic languages and expressions within the layers of paint that hang upon those walls. I was not disappointed.

It is amazing how much a painter can learn about another artist and his techniques by studying his work up close. As I learn more, I come to see more information twinkling in a masterpiece, and the more I see, the more I learn. I find myself wondering what I will see and understand after another decade or two of study and painting.

On this visit, I was paying particular attention to the various representations of water in the American landscapes, and in the more classical realistic works. There was something I sought, and I think that perhaps I found it, but only time at the easel will reveal what fruits will be borne of the experience. I am hoping for a rich harvest.

Remember to visit often the things you love, lest your soul starve, and your heart wither.

~David Jay Spyker

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  • “Who would ever have been able to anticipate the effect of music before having heard it?

    Painting should pervade the soul in the same way, and as long as it does not do this it is nothing more than a brainless handicraft.”

    ~ Arnold Böcklin, 1897

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