Reflective Paper on Art and Architecture: The Art Institute of Chicago

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  962 Words
Date:  2022-09-19


The connection between art and Architecture has been evidently overwhelming throughout history. It is not easy to confidently make out the distinction between the two elements. Highly decorated works of art in histories such as Gaudi's Sagrada Familia and Le Corbusier's Notre Dame du Haut are a clear depiction of the closeness that exists in the relationship between the two.

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The crossover between the two disciplines is vivid and ruling out the existent intersection fallacious. The relationship can be described as complimentary (Shiner). Buildings and structures form the foundation for works of art and art is used to enhance architecture by providing a decorative element producing visually stunning designs, creations, and environments (Liqun). This relationship is usually tight-knight, sometimes even overlapping. However, it is the challenge that presents in trying to get the balance right that pronounces the art in architectural creations.

My visit to the Harold Washington Library in Chicago is what drew my attention to the Art Institute of Chicago. Among its ornamentation, the building celebrates other architectural predecessors especially in Chicago that have outstandingly been able to acquire a balanced merge of artistic design, style, and architecture. Among these buildings is the Art Institute of Chicago. Being among the largest art museums in the United States, The Art Institute of Chicago is known for its architectural artistry among other things. With my interest focused specifically on art and architecture, I set to visit the museum and experience firsthand the artistic fascination that is the institutions building. It undoubtedly stands out as an important addition to the Chicago's renowned abundance in beautiful statues, museums and most importantly, architecture and buildings.

Chicago has established itself as the go-to city for showcases of both modern and historical architectural works. Based on beaux-arts style, the Chicago art institute is characterized with an architectural style that resembles the neo-classical and Greek revival styles and designs of architecture (Carlhian). An opulent design characterized by grandiose displays, an abundance of detail and classicist style. It is in Chicago where the architectural style was popularized through the Worlds Columbian Exposition, which occurred in Chicago in 1893 (Hinsley). It is therefore only right to explore the extent of use of the design and style in one of Chicago's main harbor of art and architectural expression and showcases, that is the Art Institute of Chicago.

The building is in itself an art form. In its best expression of the Beaux Arts style, the art institute of Chicago presents with both a formal and monumental space that is graced with the abundant contingent. Being a public space, the Art Institute of Chicago is specifically styled to showcase emblematic themes and messages.

Architecture and sculpture have always been crucial and central to the museum. The building is characterized by a grand entrance with decorative effects characteristic of the ancient Greek. Flanking the front and main entrance are two lion statues. The two tons weighing sculptures are both representatives of an attitude of 'defiance' for the south standing lion and the north as being 'on the prowl' (The Institute of Chicago).

The exterior of the building is made of load-bearing masonry walls that are limestone made and which give it a refined stance. The building presents with asymmetrical front. A porch in the middle area that is two-storied forms the center from which symmetrically, extends two wings on either side. Characteristic of this style of architectures designs, the windows, and doorways on the main entrance is arched. Its wall surfaces are graced with patterned decorations and engraved drawings (Richard Chafee).

The stylistic candor representative of the neo-classical times coupled with consistent white coloration that extends to the adjacent buildings has led to the area being referred to as the white city. The area presents with an ambiance of pure art and style that is central to the building's culture of elegance and class.

The art institute museum holds some of the world's most iconic artworks ever known, which places it in a class of its own in being a leading art and cultural center. Historical art pieces fill up every corner of the building. To enhance the history and detail-rich art forms harbored in these building, there is a need to create a perfect environment to see the works on display. With 3 floors of alternating glass and crafty pale wood, perfect display spaces that enhance the experiences for the viewers are created.


Art is dependent on architectural designs and spaces for exhibitions. To showcase art and fully bring out the desired effect on the viewers, art collections and artifacts require an appropriate built environment upon which it can be displayed. On the other hand, Architecture is dependent on art to enhance plain designs, bringing on a decorative, catchy, awe-inspiring turn-around impact and resulting in environments that people want to live in, learn and explore (C.A. Brebbia). The Art Institute of Chicago is the full embodiment of Art and Architecture.

Works Cited

C.A. Brebbia, A. Martinez Boquera. Islamic Heritage Architecture and Art. WIT Press, 2016.

Carlhian, Jean Paul. "The Ecole Des Beaux-Arts: Modes and Manners." Journal of Architectural Education 33.02 (2014): 7-17.

Hinsley, M. "Coming of Age in Chicago: The 1893 World's Fair and the Coalescence of American Anthropology." Journal of American History 103.03 (2016): 784-785.

Liqun, Guo. "Research on the Unification of Architecture and Art, Technology and Art in Architecture." Journal of Architectural Engineering Technology 3.3 (2014): 127.

Richard Chafee, Arthur Drexler , Neil Levine , David Van Zanten. "THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE ECOLE DES BEAUX-ARTS." Art Documentation: Journal of the Art Libraries Society of North America 6.6 (1976).

Shiner, Larry. "Architecture vs. Art: The Aesthetics of Art Museum Design." Contemporary Aesthetics (2007). <>.

The Institute of Chicago. Lion (One of a Pair, South Pedestal). 23 October 2018. <\>.

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