More about America Windows
Nowadays this work is best known for its cameo in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, as the backdrop for Ferris and Sloane’s lip-locking scene, but this work used to be famous just for being a Chagall.
The idea for this mammoth stained glass window came to Chagall after he had completed a mosaic for the city of Chicago. The people of Chicago went crazy over it. To further stroke the artist’s ego, the Chicago Art Institute met with Chagall and told him all about their plans to expand the museum and dedicate a new wing to him. As it turns out, flattery will get you everywhere because after that Chagall offered to create these stained glass windows for the museum’s exhibit.
Chagall timed this work to be finished just in time for the U.S.A.’s bicentennial and dedicated it to the recently deceased Mayor of Chicago, Richard J. Daly who was a huge supporter of the public arts.
The work is a whimsical interpretation of America as “the land of opportunity” and equality. Using his borderline trippy style, Chagall showed the art, music, dance, theater, and religious worlds coming together above the Chicago skyline and Lady Liberty, among other iconic American landmarks. Keep in mind, this was made 1977, the world was a different place then.
Despite his whimsical idolization of the U.S., Chagall never actually lived there. He just always had a thing for Chicago. Was it the alliteration?
The windows turned out to be a pain for the curatorial staff to maintain, though. Since the windows panes were installed directly into their display and Chagall left no notes, nobody had any idea how to take care of these window panes when they started getting gross from years of public view. Though they did find a way to kind of clean up the panes, their natural colors are starting to tarnish, so go see this work ASAP if you can. Or just watch Ferris Bueller again. Whatever works.
- "Chagall's America Windows," The Art Institute of Chicago, , accessed August 01, 2017, http://www.artic.edu/exhibition/Chagall.
- ArtInstituteChicago, YouTube, November 01, 2010, , accessed August 01, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Bz2mioCp-M0.
- Barbara Rose, American art since 1900, 2nd ed. (New York: Holt, 1987).