Two monumental cultural events are about to happen in the same week:
- Star Wars is releasing episode VII: The Force Awakens
- The Art Institute is about to exhibit their largest donation of artwork ever.
44 monumental modern artworks were donated to the Art Institute. These pieces are so massively impressive in the course of art history, they bear a collective value of $400 million. Would you like to see a half-billion dollar collection? It will be showing at the Art Institute of Chicago, thanks to donors Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson.
This gift is so large, that the Art Institute promised the donors that all the artworks will be shown together for 25 consecutive years as the Edlis/Neeson Collection. That’s right, that means this exhibit is not up for just a couple months, this collection will be shown together until 2040. After that, the artwork on display in its galleries for another 25years. This is immense staying power.
What else in our culture has such awesome cultural power? Star Wars. The characters in this 38-year franchise is known by everyone. Star Wars has been around for 38 years. The Edlis-Neeson collection will be on display for at least 50 years.
I took 22 of these iconic paintings from the collection and found a visually similar each for each, using a Star Wars theme.
11 more comparisons below…
How the new Art Institute Modern Art collection is like Star Wars
Worth hundreds of millions
- New Contemporary Collection worth half a billion dollars.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens expected to bring in 1.5 billion.
Legacy staying power
- New Contemporary Collection to be exhibited for 50 years.
- Star Wars franchise 38 years old, and getting better every year.
Connections to Chicago
- Collectors Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson live up the street on Michigan Avenue
- George Lucas has a home in Chicago and will be opening his museum in Chicago in the near future
Impact in history
- Abstract expressionism, Pop art, German Neo-expressionism, photo-based conceptualism
- Epic space opera, fictional universes, Entertainment licensing
Made with a vision
- The Chicago Tribune reports: But mostly the aesthetic, said Rondeau, “I’m sorry it’s so banal to say, but it’s about excellence. Stefan and Gael would wait. They did not buy based upon opportunity. They did not buy based upon what was offered to them. They did not buy dictated by the fashions of the marketplace. They waited until they had the opportunity to acquire the most iconic, most significant (work) in terms of provenance, in terms of condition, in terms of its place in an artist’s career. … This is the result of a very cautious, conscientious, connoisseurship-driven waiting game to get the right pictures.”
- George Lucas structured the original contracts for Star Wars to ensure that original trilogy didn’t get watered down as sequels.
- Warhol, Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns
- Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Darth Vader
Let’s become familiar with the incredible Edlis-Neeson collection through the lens of Star Wars. Every painting in the collection is paired with a Star Wars visual equivalent.
- Andy Warhol’s Self-Portrait is matched up with Luke Skywalker.
- Gerhard Richter’s sunset pairs up with Tatooine’s two suns.
- Roy Lichtenstein’s pop culture comic style complements a frame from the Star Wars #7 comic book
- Squiggly lines of Brice Marden squiggle along with a detailed drawing of an AT-AT
- And one of my favorites: Cy Twombly’s esoteric painting and scratches pair with the quiet Ithorian concept art.
- Oh, and the dark slumber party of Eric Fischl is matched with the underground of Jabba’s lair.
Please share the following images. Enjoy them. When you go to the Art Institute, maybe you appreciate the iconic nature of these paintings—both for their art historic significance, but also for their visual connection with Star Wars.
Do you have any favorite pairings? Please tweet or pin your favorites.
You found a TON of art.
Yeah, this was a lot of fun to put together!