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“The Tragic Muse” Exhibit At The Smart Museum at the University of Chicago

by Leon Sarantos in Reactions to Artists
The Smart Museum of Chicago is just down the street from my place, so I dropped in to see their latest special exhibit called “The Tragic Muse.” I was impressed by the works of art in the exhibition, which includes paintings, prints,and sculptures of the highest quality and by such world renowned artists as Rodin, Manet, Vuillard, and Benjamin West.

The muse of the artist during this period (roughly 1700-1900) seemed to prompt works either depicting or lending an air of tragic circumstance, hence “The Tragic Muse” . Scenes and figures projected the feeling of tragedy or foreboding.

Although these paintings and sculptures may seem a little “stagy”, they all seem to have the  power to pull the viewer in. Rodin’s “Thinker”, I was surprised to learn, was originally conceived as a condemned man in Hell sitting on a rock there. I had always been captivated by it before, but now I could see the figure as also somehow sad, and not just deep in thought.

One piece after the other tugged at those places that stir compassion and foreboding, even loneliness and despair.

The show is brilliantly curated, and it deserves to be viewed by everyone with a serious interest in art that can move the viewer.  The exhibit continues until June 5, and is at the University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue, Chicago, IL 60637