In the lead up to Halloween, it feels appropriate to feature the work of Ivan Albright, a mid-20th-century artist known for his particularly macabre imagery. And although he is most famous for painting the eponymous work in the 1945 movie The Picture of Dorian Gray, he referred to this painting, That Which I Should Have Done, I Did Not Do (The Door), as his most important work.
The painting illustrates the artist’s preoccupation with death and mortality, featuring an 8-foot-tall door hung with a decaying funeral wreath. A wrinkled hand holding an old handkerchief reaches in to the left side of the painting, perhaps towards the doorknob.
Albright spent weeks collecting the props for the painting and then spent 13 months creating an elaborate charcoal underdrawing. After that, he slowly worked on the intricate detailing of the door, claiming to complete no more than “a quarter of a square inch per day.” He used a female model for the wizened hand, but after posing every weekend for a year, she grew weary of Albright’s process and quit. He subsequently had a plaster cast of a hand made.
The Door briefly made Albright a national celebrity. He first exhibited it unfinished at the Carnegie Museum in 1938 and it was an instant success with critics. After it was completed, it was featured in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Artists for Victory, where it took first prize. A critic from The New Yorker called him “the poet of putrescence” and said that he “can express a kind of somber malevolence that is truly impressive.”
A masterpiece for certain, but we recommend that you think twice before you approach a door that looks like this on Halloween!
Ivan Albright. That Which I Should Have Done I Did Not Do (The Door), 1931/41. Mary and Leigh Block Charitable Fund.
1 day 11 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Mary Cassatt was the only American artist to exhibit with the original Impressionist group. This sensitive portrayal of a mother and child reflects the most advanced 19th-century ideas about raising children. Scientists and physicians of the day encouraged mothers (instead of wet nurses and nannies) to care for their children and to include regular bathing in their hygiene practices to prevent disease. #5WomenArtists
See three paintings by Mary Cassatt now on view: http://bit.ly/2nl9Z68
Image: [Now on view in Gallery 273] Mary Cassatt. The Child's Bath, 1893. Robert A. Waller Fund.
1 day 15 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago APRIL 21—Join us for After Dark in the Modern Wing!
Check out the new exhibition Go with special tours and late-night access. And catch live performances by Monakr and Mano.
Must be 21+. Hosted by The Evening Associates of the Art Institute of Chicago.