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The Art Institute's Beautiful 'New Contemporary' Collection Is A Gift To The City

By Marielle Shaw in Arts & Entertainment on Dec 29, 2015 9:00PM

In a year full of highs for the Art Institute (such as being named one of the best museums in the world), perhaps the highest high it reached was the news of a historic gift of many, many millions of dollars. Local philanthropists Gael Neeson and Stefan Edlis donated an impressive collection of contemporary art, valued at $400 million, for the Art Institute of Chicago's permanent collection. To call it monumental would be an understatement of epic proportions.

Now the Art Institute stands ready to share its gift with Chicago and the world at large. The Edlis Neeson gallery on the second floor of the beautiful Modern Wing, is full of art that challenges and inspires. It's a vibrant, unique collection full of passion and the peculiar, ready to open Chicago's eyes to a world of new perspectives.

Many of the heavy-hitters in the new galleries, which will remain in this configuration until 2018, are the names you'd expect. But one very exciting part of the donated works was a gift of 9 Warhols to the museum. There are also large format Lichtensteins and a multitude of colorful Jasper Johns to behold upon entering.

More challenging pieces, like the magnificent Analogia by Victor Grippo, help bring the Art Institute more prominently into the view of appreciators of all things abstract and even avant-garde. When presented with a pile of wired potatoes, we can scoff, or we can try to figure out why this was the artist's visual analogy for the war his people were suffering through.

The year's end always seems to bring introspection and the desire to start anew and seek out fresh perspectives. We find the New Contemporary to be a breath of fresh air for an already amazing institution, and a great way to see things a little bit differently.