The Art Institute of Chicago is one of the most visited museums in the world, preserving some of art history’s oldest and most beloved masterpieces. We profile ten must-see works at his Chicago institution.
Marc Chagall, America Windows
America Windows has lived at the Art Institute of Chicago since 1977. Russian-French Modernist artist Marc Chagall was an early Modernist, his aesthetic pulling from elements of Surrealism, Cubism, and Expressionism. He gifted this piece to Chicago because of his love for the city and its dedication to public art. America Windows features 36 hand-painted glass panel. This masterpiece runs 30 feet wide and eight feet high, each section showcasing a symbolic image from the realms of literature, theater, and dance.
Lorado Toft, The Solitude of the Soul
Abraham Janssens, Jupiter Rebuked by Venus
A masterpiece that is sure to light up any room, this oil canvas is beautiful because of the way these Greco-Roman gods are carefully placed around each other, and it has an interesting story to tell its visitors. Abraham Janssens describes his painting as such: ‘Venus clasps the hand of her son, Cupid, and lectures a scowling Jupiter, while the rest of the ancient gods crowd together on the clouds of Olympus.’ The reason for the dispute is unclear within the painting, but is evidently portrayed through Janssens’ way of making each figure in the painting engaged. Even from a distance, the striking colors and the body language of these gods will catch your eye.
Islamic Art & Textile Collection, Spandrel with Hunt Scene (Iran)
Visitors will be left speechless by the stunning pieces from the Islamic Art & Textile collection at the Art Institute, particularly the 13-foot wide Spandrel with Hunt Scene design from Iran. This magnificent spandrel is dated to the mid-17th century during the Safavid Dynasty. The impressive details, colors, and artistry show a glimpse into the creativity held by the Islamic Art world, making it a must-see at the museum.
Dionysos Unmasked: Ancient Sculpture and Early Prints
The Art Institute recently acquired a rare Hellenistic or Roman bronze sculpture 100 B.C.-A.D. 100, and they showcase these astonishing pieces in the ‘Dionysos Unmasked: Ancient Sculpture and Early Prints’ collection. By observing this sculpture up close, you will be able to notice how well preserved and ancient this masterpiece is. A classical relic of the Greek god Dionysos (god of wine and theater), this piece sparks guests’ interests because of its compelling story. Dionysos is known to be a god that can take many forms from which he could appeal to his audience, and at the Art Institute, this form of Dionysos appeals to art lovers!
Ralph Clarkson, Nouvart Dzeron, A Daughter of Armenia (1912)
Mysterious and alluring, this painting draws the attention of many guests due to its exotic, foreign vibe. It holds a sense of attraction, as the female in this portrait is standing strong and facing away in proud manner. When taking a closer look at this painting’s caption, viewers will notice that, remarkably, this is a portrait of one Ralph Clarkson’s students dressed in what is traditional Armenian clothing. Along with its vivid colors and dynamic, the painting is able to effortlessly capture a culture clash or dual identity, with the female showing off her foreign roots in an American artist’s painting.
Bodhisattva, Tang dynasty (618–906), c. 725/50
This simplistic Buddhist sculpture from 618-906, c 725/50 is impeccable, with its posture and graceful facial details. It is sure to catch the eye as guests walk into the realm of East Asian art. The striking quality about the Bodhisattva sculpture is that it displays realistic features in a humble manner — since the Buddhist sculptures are meant for spiritual influence, they guide or teach men to be poised as humans, and this masterpiece embodies just that. With its eloquent demeanor and symbolic meaning, the Bodhisattva is definitely one of the must-see pieces at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Portrait Bust of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, C 170–180 A.D
Why is this next masterpiece a must-see? For starters, this is portrait of one of the greatest Roman leaders to rule during 161-180 A.D. — Marcus Aurelius. This Portrait Bust of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius signifies his importance as an individual, as Aurelius was a leader that held integrity and compassion for his people. For that, he is known as the ideal Roman ruler, and this portrait exemplifies glory by recognizing his intelligence, elegance, and class through its respectable craftsmanship, and the strong demeanor of the man himself.
Designed by Charles Percier (French, 1764-1838) Londonderry Vase
A symbolic piece of French history, the Londonderry Vase portrays the most intricate paintings and delicate details of its flowers, birds, and symmetrical form. The vase holds significance because it is one of the most impressive and grand forms of Empire style art, and was also influenced by Roman imperial art for the French Empire porcelain. With its enormous size, visitors are sure to notice its presence as one of the most attention-grabbing pieces among other European artworks. A close up of this work demonstrates excellent French craftsmanship, design, and splendor.
Necklace Inscribed with the Name of King Pratapmalladeva
Last but not least, you are certain to notice this exotic statement necklace amidst the Nepal artwork collection at the Art Institute. The necklace (c. 1650) is said to be a gift to a patron goddess by the King Pratapmalladeva of Nepal. It is a simplistic and beautiful necklace — however, when approached and looked at up close, it displays detailed craftsmanship, and a striking copper tone that is complemented by semi-precious stones.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.