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 4 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Abstract Experiments: Latin American Art on Paper after 1950
During the mid-20th century, Latin American artists were active in the evolving international discourse on modernity, at a time of industrial expansion and political transformation in South America.
Abstract Experiments provides an illuminating complement to Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium and reflects the Art Institute’s recent efforts to expand its holdings of Latin American painting, sculpture, and works on paper.
1 day 22 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Hélio Oiticica: To Organize Delirium
The Art Institute presents the first U.S. retrospective of this groundbreaking Brazilian artist. A relentless innovator always pushing the boundaries of art, Oiticica is arguably the most influential Latin American artist of the post–World War II period and is recognized for inspiring Tropicália, a powerful movement that influenced art across media in Brazil.
In addition to viewing his early works on paper, visitors are invited to take off their shoes and walk through immersive sand-filled installations, view Amazonian parrots, and try on wearable objects designed by the artist.
1 day 23 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago Whitney will be taking over our Instagram for the next 24 hours. Follow along to see posts from Max and Julien’s visit to the museum.