Welcome random art with every new browser window. The Art Institute’s Chrome extension, “Art Tab” presents a new image from their collection every time you open a new tab. Throughout the day I get run random images. I hacked the plug-in, so the images appear full-screen. Which makes it all the more fun, especially how the images get cropped.
Today, a “Guardian Figure” appeared with an ominous shadow. That shadow is so dark, it’s like the sun is about to explode. Or maybe there is a solar eclipse where the sun’s brightness gets intensified.
The mysterious cause of this unnatural light makes this Indonesian sculpture all the more curious. It almost looks like someone tried Xeroxing him. Most likely someone used a bright flash when photographing this sculpture in front of a white background. The harsh shadow is a sign of poor photography—something you rarely see from the Art Institute of Chicago. They normally do a fantastic job photographing their sculptures.
Take a look at a handful of the “Guardian” sculptures in the collection:
All of these sculptures have nice simple backgrounds. No harsh shadows.
Then you have this goofball guardian statue:
What a goofball. Just check out his little mustache—I’m sorry—OMNIOUS mustache. He’s a Guardian figure after all. *Rawr*
And his little base has a custom-made pedestal for the missing pieces. So adorable—I mean INTIMIDATING!
Nothing will stop this Guardian figure from protecting whatever he protects. Even if he’s in storage.
The Art Institute of Chicago really loves their Guardian sculptures
Of the 14 guardian sculptures in their collection, 8 are on view. That’s well over half! (57%).
Compare that to the rest of their sculptures. A total of 2,444 sculptures are in their collection. 685 are currently on display, making 28% of their sculpture collection being on view. (Actually 28% is higher than I thought. But the guardian sculptures’ 57% is a very healthy percentage).
The Art Institute sure loves their Guardian statues. Out front at the main entrance are the infamous pair of lions. So beloved are these guardian lions that they are embedded in the museum’s identity.
These guardian lions also like wearing hats. Maybe the other guardian sculptures at the Art Institute should wear fun hats too. Imagine that.
The best guardian sculpture
The best guardian sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago has got to be the Cambodian Guardian Lion. Standing tall at the entrance of the Asian Art Galleries, you have the resist the urge to give him one big hug.
Does western modern culture embrace guardian statues?
These guardian sculptures were meant to be protectors of the buildings they stood in front of. Why doesn’t our culture embrace that? It would be nice to have guardian statues—especially if they are completely adorable.
Guardian statues on Amazon
To see if our modern culture embraces the guardian sculpture, let’s do our research on the ecommerce king Amazon. Making the leap from fine art to everyday products, I searched Amazon for: guardian sculpture—and of course, the results have to be available via free shipping with Prime.
All these links are affiliate links, so I can pay a bit of the hosting cost to run this site (really, I do not make a profit on this site, so please buy like 20 of these statues—especially the baby goat one. You want an army of adorable baby goats.)
I totally forgot that gargoyles are guardians. So maybe our culture does have a tradition of guardian sculptures! Here’s a cute guy all crouched down, with his wings up high to intimidate any small dogs that might be walking by. (Available via Amazon)
Ok, these garden gargoyles are kinda cute, but kinda creepy. Maybe the perfect fit to be a guardian for your home! Available via Amazon.
I’m about to go cuteoverload with this little guy. SO PRECIOUS! Please have this baby goat guard your desk. Since he’s a goat, you can put a little Cubs hat on him. (Available via Amazon—free shipping even though it’s not Prime)
Wait. Wait. GUARDIAN ANGELS. Ok, ok. Our culture really does have guardian sculptures. I have to stop writing this post now, because I’m just melting on the floor. (Amazon)
We’ve safely determined that the Art Institute of Chicago loves guardian sculptures—showing 53% of their inventory in the galleries. We also found out that western culture does embrace guardian statues—in the form of gargoyles and guardian angels.
Potential photo series
Now it’s just a question of which one will be sitting on my desk. Probably the 2.5-inch baby goat. Maybe some day I can bring him to the Art Institute to meet the lions at the main entrance, and the Cambodian lion in the Asian galleries. And all the other guardian statutes on view. Haha. That would be a sweet series.
If you get a baby goat sculpture, my baby goat can meet yours. And have a party or something.