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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Jazz 'n' Blues at the Art Institute of Chicago

(By Russell)

If you get the opportunity to visit Chicago a trip to the Art Institute of Chicago should be top of your bucket list. One of the largest art collections in the US includes some of the most well known art works, stuff you'll have looked at countless times in books and in newspaper and magazine articles, likely as not you'll have a print of one of them on your wall at home.  

On a recent visit to the Michigan Avenue galleries it quickly became apparent that Cézannes, Matisses, Monets, Renoirs and Picassos were everywhere - turn a corner and there was another and another. A true feast for the eyes of the many international visitors thronging the galleries, cafes and bookshops over three expansive floors.  


One of America's, if not the world's, instantly recognisable images - Duncan Grant's American Gothic - drew the crowds, if nothing else, it's a financial boon for the institution (general admission will set you back $25). BBC Radio 3's recent documentary Shades of Black: The Art and Genius of Archibald J Motley Jr whetted the appetite. And there he was, Motley Jr, a key figure in the Harlem Renaissance, represented by two paintings - Nightlife and Blues. Vivid, celebratory, the African-American experience portrayed in a positive light. Nightlife's bar/club scene depicts people of colour enjoying themselves, dancing to the sounds of jazz. Alongside Motley Jr was the work of Arthur Dove. An early American modernist, his abstract paintings include Swing Music (Louis Armstrong) from 1938. 

Emmett McBain's Record Cover Designs (1958-61) took pride of place in a gallery devoted to 'Bauhaus Chicago: Design in the City'. See the image of four highly collectible jazz LPs - that's the cover art of Emmett McBain. Last, but by no means least, in fact, purposely left 'til last, both in this article and on the day spent in the Art Institute of Chicago, the master of jazz noir (perhaps that's a new term, BST should copyright it!) - if you're into Chandler and the hard boiled school of American (gloriously pulp) fiction, RKO gangster movies and all things mean streets America, then you'll get it - Edward Hopper is your man. To stand in front of Hopper's Nighthawks was a once in a life opportunity. If you get the chance, go, simple as that. 
Russell

2 comments :

NeilC said...

Great article Russell thank you for posting . I am a big fan of Edward Hopper I purchased a book of his art which I look at constantly but could I own Nighthawks ! I am not familiar with Archibald Motley Jr but will certainly be looking him up, he really captures the vibrancy of Harlem to such an extent you can almost hear the music when you view the paintings .

Lance said...

Reading Russell's reports is rather like listening to "Letter From America" by Alistair Cooke which was aired on BBC Radio for many years and which often contained jazz items. I wonder what Cooke would have had to say about the current situation?

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