It’s Chinese New Year at the Art Institute! We’re celebrating with nearly a month of special programming and events, making this the fifth year the museum has commemorated the most significant holiday in China and much of Asia. The festivities began in 2012 when the museum’s Thorne Miniature Rooms keeper Lindsay Mican Morgan started decorating the Chinese Interior with items such as fireworks and red paper couplets.
2017 celebrates the Year of the Rooster, the 10th animal in the 12-sign Chinese zodiac. These proud birds (and their fowl friends, ducks and geese) can be found decorating many works of Chinese art in our collection. This is true of many zodiac animals that symbolize certain traits or characteristics, including horses and monkeys.
The 12 animals of the zodiac were also used to record time. Each year was assigned an animal in a repeating pattern: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. According to a popular Chinese legend, the animals couldn’t decide who would begin the 12-year cycle, so they decided to hold a contest to determine the sequence. The animal that reached the opposite side of the river first would begin the cycle and the remaining animals would receive their years according to their finish. The rat jumped on the ox’s back—unknown to the ox—and as the ox was about to climb to land, the rat jumped to shore and won the race. This is why the zodiac pattern starts with rat, the ox, and so on. Another legend claims that the Jade Emperor (or Buddha, in some cases) invited all of the animals to a great meeting. The pig grew hungry, stopped to eat, and promptly fell asleep on the way to the meeting, which is why the pig is last.
Each animal symbolizes characteristics that people born in that year share. Those born in the Year of the Rooster are generally known to be observant, hardworking, confident, courageous, talented, and honest.
This year the Chinese Interior is decorated again with a miniature shadow puppet theater and musical instruments to ring in the Year of the Rooster. Our Chinese New Year programming has increased dramatically over the last five years, now including drop-in family art-making activities, performances, public tours in Mandarin, self-guided tours, and culinary specialties from China. We look forward to exploring our collection with you as we make connections with each Chinese New Year.
Years of the Rooster 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005
Famous Roosters Yoko Ono (1933) Correggio (1489) Qiu Zhijie (1969) Cai Guo-Qiang (1957) Wang Guangyi (1957) Wu Hung (1945)
Learn to say “Happy New Year” in Chinese Xinniankuaile 新年快乐 Gongxifacai 恭喜发财 Niannianyouyu 年年有余
—Julie White, Tourism Marketing Manager
Mrs. James Ward Thorne, E-30: Chinese Interior, Traditional (detail), about 1937. Gift of Mrs. James Ward Thorne.
14 hours 31 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago Fullerton Hall
Free to Illinois residents or with museum admission
Brazilian artist and scholar Andreas Valentin recalls his time in New York City with artist Hélio Oiticica and screens a series of short films the two produced in collaboration.
*Museum admission is free for Illinois residents every Thursday, 5:00–8:00—including during this event.
14 hours 55 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—Rodney McMillian: a great society
a great society represents artist Rodney McMillian's work in video over the last decade. Grappling with the complexities of class, race, and place in America, McMillian employs elements of performance, public speaking, oral history—and his interest in the science fiction genre—to expose the social and psychological consequences of economic inequality, endemic racism, and the failed promise of freedom and prosperity for all of its citizens. While McMillian's work engages the often stark realities of history and contemporary culture, it is motivated by the potential for alternative realities and future transformation.
Closing March 26—http://bit.ly/2l5Ja6e
19 hours 38 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago CLOSING SOON—John Massey: Cartón de Venezuela
One of Chicago’s great design stories emerged from the Container Corporation of America (CCA) in the middle of the 20th century. Upon his appointment in 1964 as the CCA's head of design, Chicagoan John Massey formed a research arm, the Center for Advanced Research in Design (CARD), that enabled great creativity and innovation within a corporate structure.
This exhibition features a set of posters by Massey for the CCA’s subsidiary Cartón de Venezuela. Each poster represents a different month of the year, with strong, clean lines and bold colors reflecting one of Massey’s primary influences, the Swiss school of design.
Closing March 5—http://bit.ly/2lYlz6I