Architecture is intrinsically linked to art; and designing within the Modernist discipline, we find inspiration from all forms of art. That’s why there’s no better place we can think to spend the day than at the Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute is one of the oldest and largest art museums in the United States. Founded in 1879, the museum is an iconic fixture in downtown Chicago’s Grant Park on Michigan Avenue. As a host to 1.5 million people annually, the curatorial efforts there always brings forth something new to see and learn. 

This year, to celebrate 100 Years of Bauhaus, new special exhibitions at the museum shed light on the lasting influence of the iconic design school. That impact has extended into our practice at Optima, with the history of icons like Walter Gropius, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and other Modernist masters informing how we create today. Visiting the Art Institute gives us the opportunity to see how that impact has spread elsewhere, too, in three phenomenally curated exhibits. If you only have one day to spend at the museum, this is what we recommend seeing:

In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury

For the first time ever, the Art Institute is showing the work of Clara Porset, Lola Álvarez Bravo, Anni Albers, Ruth Asawa, Cynthia Sargent and Sheila Hicks as a group. The exhibition explores the unifying factor that has impacted the work of each of these artists and designers: Mexico. From different generations and mediums, all created work that was boundary-breaking.

In a Cloud, in a Wall, in a Chair: Six Modernists in Mexico at Midcentury is open until January 12, 2020.

Weaving beyond the Bauhaus

Tucked away on the lower level of the museum, this modest exhibit serves an impactful punch. The exhibit traces the diffusion of Bauhaus weaving workshop artists Anni Albers and Marli Ehrman, and their reciprocal relationships with fellow artists and students. The result is a soaring collection of weavings, acting as a conversation between iconic female textile artists.

Weaving beyond the Bauhaus is open until February 17, 2020.

Bauhaus Chicago: Design in the City

When the Bauhaus shut down, its teachers, students and thought disseminated across the world. This exhibition explores the way that instructors and students at ID and IIT adapted the German design philosophy to the United States through an array of medium, spanning from  jewelry, photography, and textiles to furniture, monumental sculpture and urban planning. 

Bauhaus Chicago: Design in the City is open until April 26, 2020.We love the way that art helps us understand the world, and in turn, informs the work we do every day. This collection of exhibits plays off one another beautifully to help deepen that understanding, relating it back to our practice in a context that is at once close and timelessly global. To experience these exhibits and everything the Art Institute has to offer, visit their website.