Down to a Science from Video Art to Underground Adventures, the City's Museums Have Big Plans for '99 after the Millennium with Artist Bill Viola

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Byline: Barbara Vitello Daily Herald Staff Writer

After showcasing Impressionist giants Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Mary Cassatt at major exhibitions in each of the last four years, the Art Institute of Chicago looks to the millennium this fall with a mid-career retrospective of video artist Bill Viola.

Inspired by Islamic Sufism, Christian mysticism and Zen Buddhism, Viola's state-of-the-art, multi-media installations combine technology and spirituality in "Bill Viola," one of the largest solo exhibitions devoted to a video artist and the Art Institute's showcase exhibition this year.

Encompassing the past 25 years of Viola's career, the exhibition, organized by the Whitney Museum of American Art, features more than 14 video installations along with 22 videotapes, drawings and notebooks. "Bill Viola" opens Oct. 16 and continues through Jan. 16, 2000.

"Gustave Moreau: Between Epic and Dream" (Feb. 13 through April 24) commemorates the 100th anniversary of the death of France's famed Symbolist painter, Gustave Moreau, the artist whose dream-like works influenced Rene Magritte and Henri Matisse as well as late 19th and other early 20th century painters and writers. More than 175 works, including 40 paintings and 60 watercolors, are included in the retrospective, which spans each phase of Moreau's career.

Many of the works included in "Masterpieces from Central Africa: Selections from the Belgian Royal Museum for Central Africa, Tervuren" (closes March 14) have never before been displayed in the United States. Drawing from a collection considered one of the world's finest, the exhibition includes figures, masks, instruments and ceremonial weapons that range from awesome to sublime.

"Land of the Winged Horsemen: Art in Poland, 1571-1764" (June 5 through Sept. 6) includes paintings, ceramics, furniture, metalworks, textiles and weaponry produced in Poland from the 16th through the 18th century. The first major American exhibition of its kind, it includes approximately 150 works reflecting Poland's royal, noble, military and religious traditions. …