Tuesday, November 26, 2013

James Bond at the Chicago Art Institute

Paul Cezanne's 1895 painting "The Basket of Apples."

Traveling to Chicago by train in November 1954, Ian Fleming dined on surprisingly good oysters and steak. His longtime American friend Ernie Cuneo joked that they’d already reached Albany before Fleming had finished explaining to the steward how his martinis should be mixed.
Dancers in front of Marc Chagall's "American Windows" at the Art Institute
Chicago, to Fleming, meant Capone and tommy guns, and he was boyishly eager to see the site of the St. Valentine’s Day massacre. But Cuneo insisted that they first visit something completely different: the Chicago Art Institute.
Fleming may have been annoyed at first, but upon arrival he was enraptured.
Behind the bronze lions guarding the entrance of the museum are, among other masterpieces, Seurat’s “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” Monet’s “Haystacks” and “Water Lilies,” Renoir’s “Two Sisters,” Hopper’s “Nighthawks,” Van Gogh’s “Self Portrait” and “The Bedroom,” Picasso’s “Sylvette” and “The Old Guitarist,” Cézanne’s “The Basket of Apples,” Toulouse Lautrec’s “At the Moulin Rouge” and Gauguin’s “The Old Woman of Aries.”
A 1954 painting by Mark Rothko at the Art Institute
“He commented in subdued tones,” Cuneo recalled. “It was as near as I ever saw him come to reverence.”
Cuneo teased him, asking, “Rather nice to find something like this out on the great American prairie, don’t you think?”
“Those pictures have no goddamned right to be in Chicago,” Fleming barked.
So sad. The sophisticate had been schooled.
Source: “Ian Fleming” by Andrew Lycett

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