Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Artist's Spotlight: Happy Birthday Edgar Degas

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see." - Edgar Degas

Today is July 19th and we're celebrating the birthday of iconic French painter, sculptor and print maker Edgar Degas (July 19, 1834 - September 27, 1917.) Degas had a rigorous academic training and initially worked in the history painting genre. Early in his 30s he changed his stylistic orientation towards contemporary subject matters that were increasingly psychological, such as intimacy and alienation. During this evolution Degas adopted the expressive color and looser brushwork that would associate him with Impressionism, though he rejected the category and thought of himself as a realist. Degas is primarily known for depictions of dancers and bathers, having used them as subjects to explore the possibilities of movement and the human form.

To shop our Degas-inspired product, including dancer sculptures, click here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Local Love Profiles: Martha Mae Boutique and Owner/Artist Jean Cate

While we here at the Museum Shop are located in a museum with a global, encyclopedic collection, there's no denying our appreciation for the local creative communities right here in Chicago. For this reason we are kicking off an occasional series profiling some of the many unique, independent and  hardworking, artists, designers and shopkeepers who are creating, curating and distributing goods and inspiration every day.

Creativity is a way of life for Jean Cate, founder, owner and artist-in-residence at her Chicago boutique, Martha Mae. The shop, situated in the Andersonville neighborhood, is stunningly assorted with art supplies and designed objects and is defined by the motto "Art Supplies and Beautiful Things." Stepping across the threshold from the bustling street is practically transformative: one is transported into Cate's aesthetic vision, and it is exquisitely appointed, light-soaked and delicately sublime.

We were fortunate enough to spend some time in the shop speaking with Cate about her finely curated assortment and visual art, and adoring her dog and shop namesake, Martha Mae. Read on and be inspired. We sure are.

Your product offerings are so unique and your assortment so beautifully curated. How do you select your offerings? Do you have specific criteria or do you choose based on intuition or aesthetics?

I use my mantra for the shop: art, art supplies and beautiful useful things as the armature for my curation. I display my own work (etchings, paintings, drawings) on the walls and carry a few ceramic artists whose work I admire and find engaging. In terms of products, tools and supplies, I look for high quality, well made things. Above the intellectual framework, aesthetics are the guiding force of my curation. There is an idealism behind my aesthetic sensibility:  if something is beautiful, of quality materials and well designed it will be its most functional and enduring. 

How has Martha Mae evolved since you opened and do you have any future plans/goals/objectives? 

The shop began very small, with few framed drawings and a curated selection of products. From there it has been a constant process of evolution building out the shop, bringing in new products and making more artwork. The next major shift will be expanding the retail area by pushing back the register, building out the new found space, and bringing in some new lines from Paris and Denmark to occupy it. 

 Pictured: Cate's original artwork and shop mascot and namesake, Martha Mae

You are also a talented visual artist. Is the shop in anyway inspired by your art or vice versa? How do you balance the responsibilities of a busy shop owner with your personal practice? 

A main motivation for opening the shop was to have a space to show and sell my work, but I also approach the shop as an artwork in itself. Composition, color, visual harmony is and has always been at the forefront of my mind when designing the shop. I don't differentiate between mediums, whether it is drawing, painting, bookbinding, ceramics, shop displays or getting dressed. I think and communicate visually.  

I find balance elusive and difficult to manifest in my daily life, so for the time being, the majority of my time is spent on my responsibilities as a shop owner, then when the demand/ need arises, I make. I find my practice to be a welcome refuge from the very social performance of running the shop.

Thank you Jean Cate and Martha Mae!

Visit the Martha Mae boutique online here: http://marthamae.info/

Visit the Museum Shop online here: http://www.artinstituteshop.org/  

Visit ARTifacts or sign up to receive the blog for future profiles of local creatives.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Artist Spotlight: Happy Birthday Marc Chagall

"Only love interests me, and I am only in contact with things that revolve around love." - Marc Chagall

Today is the birthday of early modern artist Marc Chagall (July 7, 1887 - March 28, 1985). Born in present-day Belarus, Chagall's output was incomparably diverse, incorporating elements of many modern movements but never completely aligning with one. In addition, his lyrical paintings and illustrations avoided the modern tendency towards pure abstraction, always incorporating figuration. This methodology, along with his application of religious imagery, facilitated his allegorical style. 

 Marc Chagall by Yousuf Karsh, 1965
Chagall mastered myriad mediums including painting, printmaking, illustration, ceramics, etching, sculpture, watercolor, set and costume design, murals and stained glass. 
In the early 1970s Chagall traveled to Chicago to install his mural, The Four Seasons, in the Chase Tower Plaza. It was during this trip that he was inspired to create the stained glass America Windows triptych for the Art Institute. Chagall intended the windows as a visual representation of the United States' commitment to cultural and religious freedom during the American Bicentennial.

America Windows, 1977
Browse our exclusive American Windows-inspired product, including our best-selling silk tie and scarf here.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Made in the USA: Our Fireworks Jewelry Collection

Fireworks Jewelry

Join us today as we celebrate everything made in the USA! Our Fireworks Jewelry collection is sure to add a pop of intrigue to any outfit and is handmade in lovely Los Angeles, California.  These explosive accessories are hand cast in sterling silver and then oxidized for ultimate impact.

We all know someone who is a "real firecracker." Here's a brilliant way to tell them how much their incandescent personality is appreciated! You can purchase our Fireworks Jewelry here.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Exclusive Anna Sui Designs for The Art Institute of Chicago and Gaugin: Artist as Alchemist

We are thrilled to announce an exciting, exclusive, artistic collaboration coming your way! From renowned fashion designer Anna Sui, our Orchid Print Pareo features an ethereally elegant botanical print inspired by our new exhibition Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist. This is the perfect piece to suit the aesthetic of any art or fashion enthusiast. It's absolutely stunning and available exclusively online and at the Art Institute of Chicago Museum Shop.

Born in Detroit in August, 1952, American designer Anna Sui has been making her mark on the fashion industry for nearly 40 years. Her brand categories encompass cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, accessories and home decor.  In 2009, Sui received the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).  Her body of work situates prominently at the intersection of fashion, art and design.

Anna Sui's signature style is instantly recognizable as both glamorous and beguilingly bohemian.  To celebrate our Gauguin exhibition, she has designed a line of t-shirts and accessories reflecting the artist's Pacific Island-influenced motifs. While the Orchid Print Pareo is available here, for access to the rest of the line you'll have to come visit our Exhibition Shop! You won't want to miss this thrilling collaboration or its inspiration, Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist.

 To plan your visit, find information here: http://www.artic.edu/.

AIC Exclusive denotes an item developed from the museum's collection or sourced solely for the Art Institute of Chicago.

Proceeds from all purchases support the museum's many fine programs.

Monday, June 26, 2017

On View. Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist

Visit the Art Institute of Chicago this summer and discover new perspectives on an artist you may think you already know. On view now through September 10, 2017, Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist is an exploration of more innovative and less familiar aspects of Paul Gauguin's Post-Impressionist career. Get a glimpse here in our preview and then come see for yourself!

 Artist's Tools 

Paul Gauguin became an artist late in life after a stint as a stockbroker's assistant and time spent traveling as a merchant marine. An untrained artist, he was not subject to the formalistic, creative or intellectual constraints of an academic art education. Subsequently, he often used his tools, some of which are pictured here, in unconventional ways.

Portrait of the Artist with the Yellow Christ, 1890/1 / The Yellow Christ, 1889

Throughout his career, Gauguin also utilized a distinctively wide array of materials to assimilate and reinvent the artistic traditions of cultures he encountered throughout his travels. While his time spent in Tahiti is renowned and documented, Gauguin also lived in Peru, Paris, Martinque, Brittany and the Marquesas Islands. The culture and traditions of each location contributed to his continual stylistic evolution.

Caribbean Woman, 1889/ Rupe Tahiti, 1983/Tiki, (Artist Unknown) 19th Century/Père Paillard (Father Lechery), 1902

In the current exhibition you can explore many of his forays beyond painting and into ceramics, printmaking, sculpture and furniture making. Through a closer look at Paul Gauguin's capacious career, see how truly expansive and unpredictable his oeuvre could be. 

When your visual vacation is complete, be sure to check out the Exhibition Shop, where you will find an array of books and gifts as unique as the artist himself. 

For additional information about your visit, click here.

The exhibition catalog is available here.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist Product Preview

While curators have been preparing, assembling and installing the exhibition, we've been hard at work developing, sourcing, styling and photographing a stunning product assortment in support of our exhibition Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist.  Finally, the artwork is in place and prepared for this weekend's opening and our colorful collection has arrived, insuring that you can take a piece of the experience home when you visit! 

We'll be back next week with a look at the show itself along with some exclusive highlights.  Meanwhile, here is a glimpse behind the scenes of our photo shoot and a sneak peek at the product!

We've curated a resplendent range of silk ombre scarves reflecting Gauguin's own vibrant and expressive use of color.
Carefully selected accessories are color corrected to preserve and insure impeccable chromatic integrity.

 Collaborated with reknowned designers to present Gauguin-inspired sartorial pattern play...

....and now the artwork, exhibition and product assortment are ready and waiting for you!

Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist opens this weekend at the Art Institute of Chicago and runs 
June 25, 2017 - September 10, 2017.  Learn more here: Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist

Shop our related product here: https://www.artinstituteshop.org or visit our Exhibition and Main Museum Shops where you can find a wide range of souvenirs, home furnishings and personal accessories inspired by Paul Gauguin's work. 

All purchases support the museum's various programs.