The Art Institute of Chicago Collection

Overview

Greek; Rhyton (Drinking Vessel) in the Shape of a Donkey Head Drinking Vessel (High Classical Period, c. 460 B.C.) The Art Institute of Chicago houses a collection spanning 5,000 years of artistic expression, including paintings, prints and drawings, sculptures, photographs, video, textiles, and architectural drawings and fragments. A selection of the museum's holdings are represented in ARTstor, with 200 prints, 470 drawings, over 130 works of sculpture, and 375 paintings.

Originally founded as the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts in 1879, the Art Institute officially opened on December 8, 1893. Within a year, the Art Institute received its first major gift from Mrs. Henry Field, a collection of French paintings. In 1913, the museum startled the city by hosting the Armory Show, a sprawling exhibition of avant-garde European painting and sculpture. Exceptional purchases from that controversial exhibition launched the museum's collection of Modern art. The museum's holdings of Impressionist and post-Impressionist paintings were immeasurably enhanced by the bequest of 52 paintings from Bertha Honoré Palmer in 1924, as well as the 1925 gift of the Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection, which contained the famous Sunday Afternoon on La Grande Jatte-1884 (1884-86) by Georges Seurat. During the depths of the Great Depression, the museum received the single most comprehensive gift of art in its history, the bequest of Martin A. Ryerson. This donation contained masterpieces ranging from American and European paintings dating to the 15th century to textiles, prints and drawings, Asian art, and European decorative arts.

A selection of the museum's holdings are represented in ARTstor, with 200 prints, 470 drawings, over 130 works of sculpture, and 375 paintings.


In 1988, the dramatic increase of the contemporary art collection and the popularity of large traveling exhibitions led to the construction of the Daniel F. and Ada L. Rice Building. During the 1990s, the Art Institute constructed a new suite of galleries to house its Asian collection. Here, famed architect Tadao Ando designed his first American space, a gallery for Japanese screens. The Museum is in the midst of a major expansion to create a new wing to house its modern art collection and a new education center. The structure, designed by Renzo Piano, will also include a bridge that will connect the museum campus to Millenium Park. The Art Institute hopes that the new wing will draw increased attention to its 20th Century collections, which include such important paintings as Pablo Picasso's The old guitarist (1903/04), Henri Matisse's Bathers by a River (1909, 1913, and 1916), and Rene Magritte's Time Transfixed (1938). It will also create a contemporary identity for the Art Institute, and serve as an important addition to the architectural legacy of Chicago, the city that pioneered modern architecture.

Go to the top of the page

Collection information

Total size of collection* 1,343
Percentage of completion 100%
Search terms artic
Collection URL http://library.artstor.org/library/collection/chicago

* Image totals should be regarded as an approximation until a given collection is 100% complete. Users should also bear in mind that the number of images available to them may vary from country to country, reflecting ARTstor’s approach to addressing an international copyright landscape that itself varies from country to country.

Last updated: April 10, 2010

Image Credits

Greek; Rhyton (Drinking Vessel) in the Shape of a Donkey Head Drinking Vessel (High Classical Period, c. 460 B.C.); Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago; The Art Institute of Chicago

Visit the ARTstor Blog Like ARTstor on Facebook Follow ARTstor on Twitter Watch ARTstor videos on YouTube