Chicago, Picasso, Pyramids, and Van Gogh

Et tu  Chicago … The concept of the African  and Latino pyramids aren’t only found in the Sahara, or in Mayan Teotihuacan, Mexico. They thrive in the Chicago landscape. These are organizational pyramids where you find the majority of janitors, and assistants at the lower levels of the organization. As you move progressively through the upper ranks the numbers thin out drastically. If in really abrupt cases you don’t even see minorities handling money, rest assured you pretty much have a flat-line pyramid, and maybe a future human resource problem.

Picasso - Lady beneath Pine Tree

I have to admit that I had a great time visiting the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC), this weekend. The museum has a fantastic collection of Impressionist paintings; Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Degas (the guy really liked to paint young ballerinas),  and Seurat were well represented.

Van Gogh, 1889 - "The Bedroom", AIC

There were also a couple Picassos and several paintings by Salvador Dali. With the addition of a new “Modern” wing the museum has over 300,000 pieces of art and is the second largest museum in the US.[1] Within this cornucopia of  smorgasbordic delight I happened to come across a mere handful of pieces “of color”- (ambiguous statement since the Indian and Mexican exhibitions were  better than ok) … being true to my stereotyped roots however I managed to parlay this deficit into a free ($18) extra ticket.

Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier, France - Bronze of African Man, 1848

The “windy city” has a 2008 estimated population of close to 3 mil, approximately 38% being  African American. One would think with President Obama in the big house, and Oprah still pulling in the ratings, that the African Tribal Art, or even the African American exhibitions would be something to see.  Unfortunately (or fortunately?), the museum has plans to open a new African themed installation in the Spring of 2011.[2] Funnily enough the opening of the exhibition is not being given center stage billing in the AIC “Future events” catalogue (actually it’s not even mentioned).[3]

Charles-Henri-Joseph Cordier, France - Bronze of African Woman, 1851

The AIC has one of the most extensive collections of African ceramics in the US.[4] Honestly this seems pretty weak on paper.  The investment in this cultural outlet for the growth and future development of African American society is comparatively abysmal by any standard…. but don’t get me wrong the Impressionist collection is still on point.

John Philip Simpson, 1827 - The Captive Slave, AIC

To view a comparison of the items from a recent trip to the Brooklyn Museum:

[1] http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/exhibitions/modernwing/overview

[2] http://www.artic.edu/aic/calendar/event?EventID=8027

[3] http://www.artic.edu/aic/exhibitions/future.php

[4] http://users.telenet.be/african-shop/chicago-ceramics.htm

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