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,
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.
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
What a vision of beauty!
Perhaps his enthusiastic endorsement
of the "Sanity in Art" movement
condemned him to obscurity in the late
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.
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.
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)
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,
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.
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.
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.
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.
The dean of American landscapists,
and a very fine example
The dean of local portrait painters,
always strong and vigorous.
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.
This guy seems to have been
our most erudite local painter,
i.e. very attached to the European tradition.