Back to the Art Institute of Chicago after ten years. The new wing is white, and white in lake light. Cables like beams, a future-lodge. A bridge which ends at the original wing.

The original wing is the yellow of old tape. An ominous note immediately: Georgia O’Keeffe’s Sky Above Clouds above stairs in a tight, sunless corridor. Like trying to view the painting from within a python by which it and you have both been swallowed.

Here is where there are kept densities of definitive force on my human development and character: Rainy Day in Paris, the haystacks, Sleeping Muse, the America windows –

the America windows have been reinstalled in a corner, behind a pillar twice the width of a man. The blue Chagall windows are installed behind a pillar.

The Met is an academic’s shoebox of notes (“Don’t touch it. I have a system”); LACMA is the loft of a discerning but money-drunk actress; the collection at the Art Institute of Chicago is the foundling ward of a priggish schoolteacher. Clean, protected from corrupting influences, and thoroughly misunderstood, treated alternatingly with ethical contempt and confused sobriety and presented with apology to the neighbors.


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