Chicago: The Look of the New
One of America’s greatest encyclopedic museums, the Art Institute of Chicago, is breathing new life into its hallowed halls with an ambitious transformation that leaves few corners of the venerable 130-year-old institution untouched. Many of its treasures, fresh from the conservation lab, are being reframed and reinstalled in renovated galleries that have been reorganized by curators to provide visitors with fresh insights into the collection. Seurat’s iconic A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte is now the centerpiece of a newly revamped suite of 10 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist galleries in the 1916 Gunsaulus Hall. The cornerstone of the massive overhaul is the gleaming $300 million Modern Wing, designed by Renzo Piano. The 264,000-square-foot structure, which opens on May 16, will showcase modern and contemporary art, photography, and architecture and design in luminous, spacious, glass-walled galleries. Atop the three-story building is a sleek restaurant with sweeping views of Millennium Park (to which the wing is connected by a bridge designed by Piano), Chicago’s skyline, and Lake Michigan. The Modern Wing’s opening exhibition, on view through Septmeber 13, offers highlights from the permanent collection and a show of selected works by Cy Twombly. Renovated galleries in the rest of the museum will continue to be unveiled into 2009. 111 S. Michigan Ave.; 312/443-3600; artic.edu. —Raul Barreneche
Don’t Miss Exhibitions
Venetian splendor arrives in New England this spring with “Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice” at the Museum of Fine Arts (March 15–August 16; mfa.org), a show focusing on the intense competition between three maestros of light, color, and drama whose portraits, mythological nudes, and paintings on sacred themes were infused with a unique sensuality.
At the Whitney Museum of American Art, “Jenny Holzer: Protect Protect” displays 15 years of installations, paintings, and sculptures by an artist best known for her oracular use of language to address our deepest public and private concerns (March 12–May 31; whitney.org).
Politics and art also intersect in “William Kentridge: Five Themes” (March 14–May 31; sfmoma.org), a traveling exhibition organized by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach that includes recent drawings, animated films, and theater models by this prolific and protean South African, a poet of memory and the wounds of war.
The Royal Academy of Arts is presenting “Kuniyoshi” (March 21–June 7; royalacademy.org.uk), a survey devoted to the great Japanese printmaker, one of the last masters of the ukiyo-e style, whose superhero-like warriors wrestle with crocodiles and demon ghosts.
And Americans abroad will find a compatriot following in the steps of Atget and Cartier-Bresson in “William Eggleston: Paris,” at the Fondation Cartier (April 4–June 21; fondation.cartier.com), in which a photographer long associated with forgotten corners of the American South turns his surreal eye on the City of Light. —Leslie Camhi
New Museums: The Art of the Matter
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Located in the heart of the University of Michigan campus, the Museum of Art (umma.umich.edu) reopens on March 26 after a multimillion-dollar expansion, which nearly doubles the exhibition space and includes the renovation of its landmark Beaux-Arts building, Alumni Memorial Hall. Architect Brad Cloepfil and Allied Works Architecture organized the expansion around three limestone-and-glass wings, suffused with light and designed to showcase one of the country’s leading university art collections of more than 18,000 pieces, including notable Central African works and Asian art, as well as Old Masters, modern, and contemporary art.