Continuing its tradition of collaborating with other Chicago cultural institutions to offer yearlong programming around a central theme, the Art Institute of Chicago
announces its 2009-2010 season as "500 Ways of Looking at Modern." Partnering with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Poetry Foundation, and Hubbard Street Dance Chicago , the museum will present 500 lectures, programs, exhibitions, readings, and performances on the theme of the modern--from avant-garde art to points throughout world history in which conventions were overturned and new world views emerged. Highlights of the season include the first ever residency of a major dance company, the Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, at an art museum; a major exhibition that reframes the work of artist Henri Matisse; and a very rare loan from the National Gallery of London of Caravaggio's Supper at Emmaus , one of the very few times a Caravaggio has been seen in Chicago. "500 Ways of Looking at Modern" begins on September 3, with actors from Steppenwolf Theatre performing highlights from plays by Arthur Miller, Eugene O'Neill, and others, and ends in June 2010, with the one-year anniversary of the Modern Wing.
"The opening of the Modern Wing in May gives us an opportunity to examine moments of monumental change in world history," said James Cuno, President and Eloise W. Martin Director of the Art Institute of Chicago. "We are thrilled to be working once again with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and the Poetry Foundation, and we welcome our new partner, Hubbard Street Dance Chicago, whose members will be choreographing and performing works based on our permanent collection. The Modern Wing is a celebration of the new and the revelatory in the visual arts, and we will be collaborating with our partners to bring visitors a better understanding of the new and the revelatory across history and cultural expressions."
Four years ago, the Art Institute partnered with the City of Chicago, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and Yo-Yo Ma's Silk Road Ensemble to offer a yearlong exploration of the Silk Road and the cultural exchanges it brought about. Since that time, the museum, working with partners around the city, has presented similar themed seasons in which programs and exhibitions were developed around such topics as American identities, globalism, and, for 2009-2010, "the modern."
While people and institutions have throughout history always said, done, and created new forms, ideas, inventions, and objects, the idea that these activities were "modern" did not emerge until the historian Jakob Burkhardt in 1867 looked back to the Renaissance and argued that it was during this flowering of artistic expression and political change that individuals became the engines of significant change. The season "500 Ways of Looking at Modern" launches from this fundamental idea to present those individuals and ideas that literally changed the world.
On Thursday evenings, the museum will present lectures by such noted speakers as Alex Ross (the author of The Rest is Noise ), Glenn Lowry (the director of the Museum of Modern Art), and Pulitzer Prize-winning composer John Adams. These Thursday night talks will address a wide range of topics, from twentieth-century music to the poetry of Robert Lowell to the life and work of Caravaggio. The Art Institute will also present chamber music concerts with the CSO as well as CSO previews; conversations about music and theater with composers, musicians, and actors; and poetry readings by C. D. Wright, Derek Walcott, and Carol Ann Duffy, the poet laureate of Great Britain. Also offered is a symposium on contemporary art and a full slate of exhibitions at the museum, including works by contemporary designer Konstantin Grcic and contemporary artist Monica Bonvicini; Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago; and Matisse: Radical Invention, 1913-1917.