The Art Institute of Chicago is an artistic architectural structure that graces Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Illinois. At the entrance of the Art Museum, stand two guardian lion statues. Lion statues were status symbols for great dwellings that were placed outside of main entranceways to promote good and to stop evil from entering in. As I entered the building, I sensed myself going back into an era, into a past where people traded ideas and learned from each other. It is a past where we find works of yesteryears within our grasp; to be remembered, shared and treasured. As Ms. Cherwin guided us through the museum, I couldn’t stop wondering if the artists knew that their works of art would one day be shared and appreciated so many years later, by so many hundreds of thousands of people. As we viewed various works, and passed by several more, I wondered what the artists were thinking and feeling as they were creating their masterpieces; what stories they were trying to tell. While browsing the contemporary section of the building, we entered the room containing Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks. Another painting in the same room, Nightlife, by Archibald Motley, caught my eye; not for the first time. The bright colors and subject matter caught my attention and intrigued me. I decided to do a bit of research on Motley and Nightlife, and compare and contrast it to Nighthawks.
Archibald Motley was born in New Orleans in 1871. At the age of two, Motley’s family moved to Chicago. When he was just nine years old, Motley knew that he wanted to be an artist. Motley was also interested in Chicago African American life, and as a child he would venture to Thirty-fifth and State streets to watch the dancing, singing and people. After high school, Motley trained at the Art Institute of Chicago. Following graduation, Motley had a difficult time finding work because of his race. As a result of this, Motley spent the first twelve years of his career depicting...
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