Marc Chagall’s America Windows is one of the most beloved treasures in our vast collection. First debuting at the Art Institute in 1977 and made forever famous less than ten years later by an appearance in the film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, the “Chagall Windows,” as they are more popularly known, hold a special place in the hearts of Chicagoans. Following an intensive period of conservation treatment and archival research, the windows returned in 2010 as the stunning centerpiece of a new presentation at the east end of the museum’s Arthur Rubloff building.
While members and visitors have loved America Windows for years, many may not realize how deeply their history is interwoven with the history of Chicago and its rich tradition of public art. The story begins in the early 1970s, when Chagall came to the city for work related to his mosaic installed outside Chase Tower, The Four Seasons. In response to the city’s enthusiasm for his work and the Art Institute’s great support, the artist offered to create a set of stained-glass windows for the museum. Over the course of three years, plans were clarified, and in the end, Chagall determined that the windows would commemorate America’s bicentennial. The resulting six-panel work celebrates the country as a place of cultural and religious freedom, detailing the arts of music, painting, literature, theater, and dance. Because of his admiration for Chicago and its strong commitment to public art during the 1960s and 1970s, Chagall chose to dedicate the work to Mayor Richard J. Daley, a great supporter of public art projects. The windows were presented with much fanfare at a formal unveiling, hosted by the Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute, on May 15, 1977.
In their new home, the vibrant colors of the windows will once again glow due not only to their extensive conservation but to a new and insightful context of other modern artworks in the museum’s collection related to this moment of the city’s engagement with public sculpture.
Watch a video about the history, creation, conservation, and reinstallation of the "Chagall windows."
The reinstallation of Marc Chagall's America Windows is generously sponsored by a grant from the Walter E. Heller Foundation in memory of Alyce DeCosta. Conservation of Marc Chagall's America Windows is generously supported by the Auxiliary Board of the Art Institute of Chicago and the Prince Charitable Trusts.
1 day 17 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago “It's instinctive in a certain kind of painting... It's like a nervous system… The feeling is going on with the task. The line is the feeling, from a soft thing, a dreamy thing, to something hard, something arid, something lonely, something ending, something beginning.”
Happy birthday, Cy Twombly!
Image: Cy Twombly. The First Part of the Return from Parnassus, 1961. Through prior gift of Mary and Leigh Block; Marian and Samuel Klasstorner and Major Acquistions Endowment Income funds; Wirt D. Walker Trust; Estate of Walter Aitken; Director's Fund; Helen A. Regenstein Endowment; Laura T. Magnuson Acquisition Fund.
2 days 11 hours ago The Art Institute of Chicago MAY 15—Join us for After Dark with special tours of Ireland: Crossroads of Art and Design, 1690–1840, live performances, DJ sets, pints of Guinness at the cash bar, and more!