Sunday, October 12, 2008

Union League of Chicago

Raymond Perry Rogers

I think I would try to join the Union League Club,
if I could afford it.

Whatever else they may do,
they have been a band of activist,
conservative aesthetes for
over a hundred years.

As patrons, collectors,
and even as sponsors
of a biennial exhibit/competition
from the 50's through the 80's
until established critical opinion seems to have
shamed them out of it.

(though I don't think I would ever
satisfy their dress code.)

The only club that would accept me
as a member is the Palette and Chisel,
and BTW,
are paintings by the P&C's past members
which are in the collection of the League)

Above --- is a painting
that I think exemplifies the best of their collection.

The artist,
whom I think is a Vermeer
compared with his contemporaries,
is now almost completely unknown.

Not in ArtCyclopedia,
nor in Wikipedia
(I would put him in,
but I'm tired of being edited by
14-year-old martinets)

What a vision of beauty!
Perhaps his enthusiastic endorsement
of the "Sanity in Art" movement
condemned him to obscurity in the late
20th Century.

Edgar A. Rupprecht

Here's another obscure guy
who had a vision of beauty.

His work was so undervalued
in his own lifetime,
that both of the above canvases
were pancaked on the same stretcher,
and nobody knew about it
until after the Union League
had purchased it.

James Valerio

Here's a spectacular (and very large)
work by a contemporary Chicago painter.

It depicts his sleeping wife
while the hill fires of southern California
are burning in the background.

I love this painting but........
I've never seen anything else by this painter
that I've liked.

Perhaps this painting is for his world,
and all the others
are for the artworld.

Gary Weisman

Who else in the late 20th C. would showcase
neo-classical naturalism in sculpture?

An utterly discredited genre,
this kind of work typically sells
for less than the cost of casting it.

(Weisman cast his own)

Hovsep Pushman

I first discovered Hovsep Pushman
when I visited the League about 10 years ago,
and later discovered he's had something of a revival
being touted so strongly by leading contemporary master,
David Leffel.

On this weekend's visit
his work was not on display
but I'm sure that it will soon re-appear.
His range was quite limited --
all he did was still life of Chinese sculpture
-- but still I think of him as Chicago's greatest painter
His paintings feel so magical.

Claude Monet

The League bought this piece for $500
back in the late 19th C.

It was considered so controversial,
the President of the club
refused to hang it during his term of office.

So --- let's applaud the independence of their good taste.

What a fabulous trip through space!

It really was a triumph to acquire it in 1890,
but to celebrate it now
is something of a safe bet.

Milton Horn

A much riskier bet today is
the League's celebration of this
recent acquisition by
a sculptor whose reputation
does not extend much further
than my website.

This is a small, plaster maquette for a
never commissioned monument to F.D.R.

Karl Buehr

An artist who seems to show up
in every collection of Chicago painting.

(according to the very knowledgeable docent,
this is a portrait of the artist's wife.
Her hair was not really that color,
but he liked to paint it red anyway)

And, BTW , I really have to thank the docent
for the tour she gave.
She is on the art committee of the League,
and is totally involved in their aesthetic life.

I was something of a rude audience,
since I couldn't resist looking
at the nearest painting instead of at her
or what she was talking about.

Evelyn Beatrice Longman

No... this isn't the kind of thing I like.
It's too feminine.

But it's an example of all the
female artists whom the club collected
(and I know Robert will like it)

Frank Russell Wadsworth

Another totally obscure, but very good, local painter.
He died way too young to get famous

Charles Harold Davis

(note: the above painting is very large,
at least 8' long)

The more I look at landscapes,
the more attached I've become
to what are called "The luminists"
(even if this is an east coast,
rather than Midwest approach to painting)

Lowell Birge Harrison

Here's another example - though in a minor key.

These paintings pull me in ,
and I have such difficulty getting myself back out.
(which is why I had such a hard time
keeping up with the group)

Frederick Milton Grant

Back to prominent Chicago painters again,
I like to see crowds of people
through their eyes.

George Inness

The dean of American landscapists,
and a very fine example

Louis Betts

The dean of local portrait painters,
always strong and vigorous.

Albert Bloch

Not typical of their collection,
at least until the League
latched on to the Chicago imagists
of the 1960's.

Not really the kind of thing that I like, either,
but I still found it irresistible.

Claude Buck

This guy seems to have been
our most erudite local painter,
i.e. very attached to the European tradition.


Blogger marlyat2 said...

I do like following you through these shows… And weren’t they lucky with the Rupprecht?

There’s an odd kind of bee-line in light from the Pushman still life to the Harrison. I like the luminists, too, and the Pushman has (at least in this tiny internet version) a dreamy mote-filled light.

October 13, 2008  
Blogger Robert said...

I do like the Inness, so unlikely that it probably happened! I have room for that painting! Can you give us more works of Milton Horn, he taught your father? yes?

October 14, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

Here's the link to Horn.

BTW -- is Inness as well known to Brits as he is to Americans? Have you ever seen his work in British museums ?

October 14, 2008  
Blogger artiseternal said...

What a lovely collection of paintings. I could look at some of these all day long and not get bored with them. The Monet's are so peaceful. I can't imagine the objection to them. That whole Impressionist period brought a lovely sense of light to paintings that wasn't there before.

October 14, 2008  
Anonymous Bill said...

With the Bill Ayers thing and all I've been visiting Chicago's revolutionary past, specifically the Union League's connection to the controversial sculpture of the Haymarket policeman (I lean toward the unionists, but I certainly like law and order).

I'm really commenting to send you this link. Look for the kitsch test link toward the bottom of the post. If you haven't taken the kitsch test I thought you would certainly want to!

October 15, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

Thanks, Bill.

I've just taken Odd Nerdrum's Kitsch test -- and passed it with flying colors. (though I'm not at the top of the class. Many questions -- like the very first one - I was unable to answer.)

October 15, 2008  
Blogger Bill said...

Well I'd guess you'd have to be a walking polemic to get all the answers 'right'.

October 17, 2008  
Blogger chris miller said...

From an email sent by Mia Buehr:

..just wanted to say that I really enjoy your blog, and the Union League posting in particular because it has a painting by my grandfather in it. I just wanted to correct your comment that the portrait is of KB's wife - actually it's of his daughter Kathleen (my aunt)

I have a small pastel study of the same subject which appears to be a preliminary sketch for the larger work, and in it the sitter's hair is dark, so you may be right that KB preferred to paint red hair.

November 21, 2015  

Post a Comment

<< Home