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6 Famous Artworks at the Art Institute of Chicago

March 15, 2023 By CityPASS

Art lovers from all over the country and even the world flock to the Windy City to view the Art Institute of Chicago's paintings. The world-renowned art museum features some of the most historically significant pieces of art known to modern man, and any visit to Chicago is incomplete without a trip to the Art Institute.

Whether you consider yourself to be an art history buff or an amateur admirer of fine art, the Art Institute of Chicago's artworks hold appeal to every taste and proficiency. Featuring one of North America's most extensive collections of art, spanning centuries, the Art Institute of Chicago is one of the top tourist attractions in the Midwest.

If you're planning a trip to Chicago, be sure to view these timeless paintings at the Art Institute of Chicago during your stay.

The Art Institute of Chicago: An Overview

Founded in 1879, the Art Institute of Chicago was not only a museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing a wide range of the world's most important pieces of artwork, but also a fine arts institution dedicated to shaping a future in which art is a stronghold of our society.

The Art Institute of Chicago building, which extends nearly a staggering 1 million square feet, became a permanent fixture in 1893 when the school and museum were moved into the building in which they still exist today.. The front steps of the building are bordered by two iconic lion statues, which welcome students and art lovers into the building.

The Art Institute of Chicago has numerous departments devoted to educational outreach, providing equitable access to the gift of art and showcasing a rotation of exhibitions, and the museum is home to some of the most important artworks in the world.

6 Famous Artworks That Deserve a Visit

Although visitors to the museum should make their way through all three floors of the Chicago Art Institute, these six pieces of art deserve special attention during your visit.

Edward Hopper's "Nighthawks"

Even if the name Edward Hopper doesn't stand out to you compared to other painters like Picasso or Michelangelo, there is a high likelihood that you'll recognize his famous oil on canvas work, "Nighthawks," when you see it.

Hopper released the painting in 1942, depicting four figures in a restaurant on a quiet city street at night. A woman in a red dress sits next to a man in a suit and a hat, while another man in a suit and hat sits around the bar from them. In between these figures is a waiter dressed all in white.

A relatively calm painting, this scene is proactive in its use of color contrast and should be high on your list of pieces to see when you visit the museum.

Claude Monet's "Cliff Walk at Pourville"

Claude Monet is famed for his impressionist water lily paintings and is one of the most well-known artists of all time. His piece "Cliff Walk at Pourville" is on display at the Chicago Art Institute and is a stunning showcase of the 19th-century painter's work.

The painting features two women walking along a wildflower-lined cliffside, looking out at the ocean. With blue skies and white clouds, you can practically smell the sea air while looking at the painting.

Grant Wood's "American Gothic"

"American Gothic" is one of the most iconic art pieces in American history and by far Grant Wood's most famed piece. The painting was released in 1930, and it features a long-faced older couple standing in front of their farmhouse, with the man holding a pitchfork.

This painting has made its way into the American canon and is often emulated (if not parodied).

George Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte"

One of the most memorable pointillist paintings of all time, George Seurat's "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" is an evocative depiction of a bustling park on a sunny day.

The Island of La Grande Jatte is an island along the Seine, and the painting features people, dogs, and boats leisurely enjoying the weather, with some lounging on the grass while others stand around and take in the views.

Pablo Picasso's "The Old Guitarist"

Perhaps one of the most famous paintings from Picasso's Blue Period, "The Old Guitarist," shows an old man sitting cross-legged on the ground with a guitar in his hand, his head hanging low toward the floor.

The painting is incredibly solemn, and unlike many of Picasso's cubist paintings, which include more abstract shapes and color variation, leaving much room for interpretation, "The Old Guitarist" clearly depicts a man in emotional turmoil and uses a uniform color scheme.

Seeing any of Picasso's paintings in person is a win for any lover of the arts, and viewing this iconic painting is a must for any visitor to the museum.

Marc Chagall's "American Windows"

Unlike many of the art prints you'll see as you wander around the Art Institute of Chicago's various galleries, "American Windows" is a glass installation that uses bold colors and a massive scale.

Expanding more than 30 feet across, "American Windows" is spectacular in its grandiosity, and you can easily get lost in this stained glass piece's overt and subtle contrast.

Visit Chicago's Art Institute and Other Tourist Attractions

Chicago is one of the best cities in the United States to immerse yourself in art and culture, and the Art Institute of Chicago is only one place where you can appreciate some of the most iconic art from around the world.

To get the most out of visiting the Windy City's top attractions, bundle and save with CityPASS® tickets. Using CityPASS® tickets, you can save up to on admission to Chicago's most visited tourist destinations, including the Field Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, Skydeck Chicago, Adler Planetarium, 360 CHICAGO Observation Deck, Shedd Aquarium, Shoreline Sightseeing Architecture River Tour, and more.

Chicago Lodging

To get the most out of your stay in Chicago, we recommend finding lodging near Chicago's top attractions. Use this map to find the right lodging for you:

Header Image ©Edward Hopper. Nighthawks, 1942. Friends of American Art Collection.

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