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Paris comes to Chicago in ‘Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity’ exhibit

The Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity' exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago includes period hats, fans and shoes.
The Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity' exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago includes period hats, fans and shoes.
Jodie Jacobs

Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” now at the Art Institute of Chicago, spectacularly combines famed works from the Musée d’Orsay where it opened last year, from the Metropolitan Museum of Art where it was mounted earlier this year, from the Art Institute where it is up now through Sept. 22, 2013 and from other art institutions.

Edgar Degas, 'Millinery Shop', 1879-86 Art Institute of Chicago
Edgar Degas, 'Millinery Shop', 1879-86 Art Institute of Chicago
Art Institute of Chicago

However, the exhibit is bound to have visitors expand the way they view some of their favorite paintings in the exhibit and some other works in the future because it connects artists to the fashions of the day.

Be honest, when you visit an art museum are you considering an artist’s or movement’s painting style or the clothes worn by models and the people that populate the canvases?

Asked another way, when you look at a Renoir do you like his use of white and ability to capture a quiet scene without making it look like a sharply focused photograph? And when you view a Georges Seurat do you applaud his skill in turning distinct dots of color when seen close-up into a blend of colors and images when viewed from across the room?

Did you really think, lovely dress, wonderful parasol or wonder if women liked wearing dresses with bustles?

The exhibit not only makes you aware of the fashions of the time, it showcases some of the clothes worn at the time. It explains that artists were interested in capturing Paris from the mid-1860s to mid-1880s when it was becoming the fashion capital because that was the life that surrounded them. You see morning dresses, outing outfits and black dresses near paintings that depicted them.

Mounted in angled rooms with mirrors behind the clothes, the exhibit is geared to the fashion statements of the paintings and artists.

Details: “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity” is at the Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60603 now through Sept. 22, 2013. Hours: Daily 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Thursday to 8 p.m. Admission: General $23/seniors and students $17, discounted $3 to Illinois residents and free to children under age 14. For more information visit AIC and call (312) 443-3600.

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