Saturday, January 27, 2018

January 27, 1916 -- Monet Painting Called "worst in the gallery"

Claude Monet's "Vetheuil"
January 27, 1916 – Mrs. Lois Dunning, the president of the Three Arts Club, passes judgment on a Claude Monet painting that hangs among French and Belgian works drawn from the Panama-Pacific exhibition of 1915, a collection on display at the Art Institute of Chicago.  The Monet painting, “Vetheuil,” priced at $9,000, draws the attention of Dunning as she leads 200 women “gathered to hear her discourse on art.” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 28, 1916] “Now look at this thing,” Dunning begins.  “A 10 year old could have painted it.  I don’t know whether the artist meant the lavender foreground for a bog, a stream, or a level bit of ground.  It’s awful.  It’s one of the worst things in the gallery.”  The tour continues as Dunning points to a painting by Pierre Carrier-Belleuse, “The Ballet Slipper.” The artist, Dunning declares, “ought to have known better than to have had the girl’s dress up to her knees.  You don’t see such beastly things in American art … we don’t want to see women’s faces brutalized.  That’s what this new school of art does.  It’s a far cry from that art of long ago when flesh was painted so delicately that it looks as if one might pinch it.” 

January 27, 1929 – The Chicago Motor Club opens its new 17-story headquarters at 66 East South Water Street, inviting members of the public to inspect the gleaming interior of this new Art Moderne masterpiece.  The structure is a testament to the marriage of design and the labor necessary to bring the design into reality.  It is the first office building in the city to “embody the ‘art moderne’ theme,” [Chicago Daily Tribune, January 27, 1929] for one thing.  It is impressive that the building was completed in just 234 days, a period that included the razing of the building that originally stood on the site.  The touring bureau for the club occupies the first floor of the tower, a site that reaches 30 feet in height and has no columns or posts.  The artwork is particularly impressive.  The Tribune offers this description, “The east wall is marked by three large windows, extending from floor to ceiling.   On the west wall is painted a map of the United States.  It was executed in modernistic style by John Norton, widely known Chicago mural decorator.  The size is nineteen by twenty-nine feet.   On it are portrayed nineteen transcontinental highways, together with the various mountain ranges and national parks.” The Chicago Motor Club moved its headquarters to Des Plaines in 1986, and the building on South Water Street closed in 2004.  In 2013 MB Real Estate led an effort to convert the unused tower to hotel space, paying about $9.5 million for the building and overseeing its rebirth as a Hampton Inn. 

January 27, 1901 -- The Chicago Daily Tribune reports that there are only five wolves left within Chicago's limits where once there were thousands. When the great herds of bison on the Great Plains were slaughtered almost to extinction, the wolves that depended on them suffered as well, often turning to the herds of domestic cattle for sustenance. That, of course, only hastened their already tenuous existence as they were hunted ruthlessly with a good gray hide bringing $5 or more. "In America," the paper wrote, "no one renews the game supply and evybody seeks to destroy, blindly, selfishly, unreasoningly . . . There is no other country of equal enlightenment with this which allows its wild game, the property of the whole people, to be stolen for the individual profit of a few." The 1903 photo above shows one of the five wolves in Chicago on display at the Lincoln Park Zoo.

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