It may be hard to imagine today, but Doris Lee’s beloved depiction of holiday domesticity provoked a firestorm of controversy when it was first shown at the Art Institute in 1935. At the 46th Annual Exhibition of American Painting and Sculpture, Doris Lee was awarded that show’s highest honor, the prestigious Logan Prize. The only problem: Mrs. Josephine Hancock Logan, the patron for whom the award is named, detested Lee’s work, calling it “atrocious” and “awful.” Thanksgiving became the locus of fierce debate about the state of contemporary art when many of the city’s great art patrons publicly lambasted the show for its modern bent. More people came to see the show than arguably would have otherwise in part because critics called it “obscene and indecent.”
Mrs. Logan summed up her sentiments in the Chicago Tribune (Nov 7, 1935; pg. 2): “I am incensed. After a visit to a museum one should have a glow, should be uplifted. But a sane person leaves this exhibit feeling the art world has the jitters or delirium tremens... I defy any one to find more than six or eight normal pictures in the whole show." Sanity as such became Mrs. Logan’s rallying cry; she founded the Society for Sanity in Art the following year to protest the baser elements of modern art and restore more traditional notions to the form. The group slowly dissolved during the 1940s. Incidentally, the Logan medal would later go to such modern artists as Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol. And Thanksgiving has since become a favorite at the Art Institute. See it on display this holiday season in Gallery 263. Happy Thanksgiving!
1 day 8 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Congratulations to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on their grand opening this weekend. The building, designed by architect David Adjaye, is a truly historic addition to the National Mall in Washington D.C. #APeoplesJourney #MakingHistory
1 day 10 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Time machines, superheroes, wild creatures, and more… JourneyMaker makes every visit to the museum an adventure.
Try this new digital interactive for families in the museum’s Ryan Learning Center, located in the Modern Wing, or print out a tour at home.
2 days 8 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Today marks the autumn equinox and the official end of summer. Celebrate the changing of the seasons with the latest in ARTicle’s Sound and Vision series, matching songs from around the world with our encyclopedic collection.