Claude Monet, in his long and productive life, never came to Chicago. Yet there was an unmistakable bond between the French impressionist, painter of haystacks, and the Second City, “Stacker of Wheat” in Carl Sandburg’s famous poetic description.
That connection expressed itself in Chicago exhibiting Monet early and often and, more important for the present moment, in its monied class being avant-garde enough to purchase his canvases.
That legacy of the city and its Monets is explored in the aptly titled “Monet and Chicago,” finally on view at the Art Institute after COVID-19 temporarily closed the museum and pushed back the exhibition’s planned spring opening.
Typically a big Impressionism or post-Impressionism show there is a grand happening. For all the strides the Art Institute has taken into modern art, the museum’s bread, butter and brand remains the breathtaking collection of turn-of-the-20th-century paintings and painters that every college graduate knows from their one art history class.