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Art Institute’s Gloria Groom to be honored with top French award

Gloria Groom, seen here outside the Art Institute of Chicago. (Photo: Alex Wroblewski/Sun-Times)

Gloria Groom, who was named chair of the Art Institute of Chicago’s European Painting and Sculpture department in 2015, and has curated such exceptionally popular exhibitions at the museum as “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” (which runs through May 10), and “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” (which also was seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Musee d’Orsay in Paris), will receive the distinction of the Chevalier Légion d’Honneur on Friday, April 29. The highest of the five levels of the French government’s Légion d’Honneur award, it will be presented to Groom in a private ceremony to be held in the museum’s Modern Wing, where the French Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, will officiate. The award honors Groom for her contributions to French art and culture.

Groom joined the Art Institute as a research assistant in 1984 and has been there ever since, publishing her research extensively in exhibition catalogues and scholarly journals, and presenting her ideas in many internationally recognized exhibitions, including “Caillebotte: Urban Impressionist” (1995), and “Beyond the Easel: Decorative Painting by Bonnard, Vuillard, Denis, and Roussel, 1890–1930” (2001). The 2013 exhibit, “Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity” – which explored the significance of fashion from the Impressionist era as both a subject and a vehicle for a new approach to painting – garnered wide acclaim.

Along with overseeing the museum’s collection of Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Rococo, early 19th-century art, and her particular area of expertise – the Impressionists and Post Impressionists – Groom as held the position of David and Mary Winton Green Curator. She has spearheaded the museum’s major digital research initiative – which represents comprehensive collection information for the Art Institute’s permanent holdings – since 2009, co-authoring and co-editing volumes on Monet and Renoir (released in 2012) and Pissarro, Manet, and Caillebotte (released 2015); and a volume on Gauguin. These volumes represent the definitive state of art historical research and technical investigations on the works of these artists, and involved extensive collaboration with an international team of scholars, conservators, and scientists.

Groom’s next exhibit will be “Gauguin: Artist as Alchemist,” in collaboration with the Musée d’Orsay. It will look at the artist’s life-long interest in three dimensional objects in a variety of media (ceramic, wood, stained glass) in the context of his better known paintings.

Groom received her B.A. from the University of Oklahoma, Norman, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin. She received a diploma from the École du Louvre, and was a 2009 Fellow of the Center for Curatorial Leadership.