A very controversial piece of art in Chicago is really an unnamed one. Chicago's unnamed Picasso Statue has many names: "Woman With Flowing Hair, Picasso's Dog, A Cow, Bird of Prey, or most often, Chicago Picasso"
It is located in downtown Chicago's Daley Plaza which is a public square on the south side of the Richard J. Daley Center at 50 West Washington Street. The statue is made out of the same material that was used to build the Daley Center; it is called Corrosive Tensile or "Cor-Ten" for short.
I remember when it was first constructed, it appeared rusted because it is unpainted. If I recall correctly, it was put together in Gary, Indiana, and then taken apart and transported to Chicago to be put back together. It was unveiled in 1967, and I also know that it received many critical remarks in the beginning. Many people did not like abstract art; others did not like it because they did not know what it was.
Chicago's Picasso is, as far as I am concerned, a great example of outdoor sculpture. I like the fact that Picasso did not give it a real name nor did he indicate what it was; thus, we are left to imagine within our own mind's eye...cool!
Fortunately, today the Chicago Picasso is a favorite with many Chicago people. I wonder if most Chicago people realize that Picasso refused to take any money for this sculpture and, instead, gave it as "a gift to the people of Chicago"? What a gift it was. Thanks, Picasso!
In the little walking tour kit provided by the hotel, I found a short one that indicated where some of the most famous urban sculptures could be found in downtown Chicago. It started out at the Daley Plaza, with the "Chicago Picasso" (Photo 1). The 50 feet tall sculpture was designed by Pablo Picasso in 1965 and unveiled in 1967. It stirred some controversy at first and many suggested that the sculpture be taken down and replaced by something else, but over the years Chicagoans have grown to love their Picasso, and it has become one of the city's landmarks.
The Picasso was the first major public artwork in The Loop, and it was soon followed by others. Just across the street from the Daley Plaza, stuck between an office building and a church on Washington street, you'll find Joan Miro's "Chicago" (Photo 2). This sculpture was unveiled in 1981, and it was originally called "The Sun, the Moon, and One Star". The rather intriguing female-shaped sculpture is 39 feet tall and it is made out of steel, wire mesh, concrete, bronze, and ceramic tile.
From there, if you walk south on Dearborn St., you'll find Marc Chagall's "The Four Seasons" (Photo 3) at the corner of South Dearborn and Monroe Street. This unique work of art is a 70 feet long, 14 feet high and 10 feet wide mosaic made out of thousands of colorful tiles that represent different Chicago scenes. Unveiled in 1974, it was a gift to the city of Chicago by Chagall who, like Picasso before him, refused to get paid for his work.
Finally, still further down on Dearborn Street, in front of the Federal Center, you'll find Alexander Calder's "Flamingo" (Photo 4), unveiled in 1974. This 53 feet tall orange sculpture is made of steel and despite its airy, seemingly weightless design, it actually weighs about 50 tons. Its bright color and curvy design make quite an interesting contrast with the surrounding grey, square buildings.
That's where my little walking tour ended but if you keep walking around the Loop, you'll probably find some other amazing urban sculptures!
Is it a dog? A Monkey? Picasso's wife? As it is unnamed, it is up to the viewer to decide.
Located in Daley Plaza, the Picasso was unveiled on August 15, 1967. Many people were aghast, a local alderman suggested the sculpture be deported and replaced with a statue to Ernie Banks ("Mr. Cub", played for the Chicago Cubs). But as with many things, Chicagoans have gotten used to the Picasso and perhaps have even grown fond of it .
The sculpture is 50 feet high and weighs 162 tons. Fabricated by the U. S. Steel Corporation, the sculpture was completely pre-assembled in Gary, Indiana, disassembled, shipped to the Civic Center (now the Daley Center), and reassembled in its final form. Picasso refused a fee for his work but preferred to give the design and the model as a gift to the people of Chicago.
Insider tip if you look at the sculpture from the backside, you can see a woman's face, it's said to be the artist's wife. Look at the second photo, see the hair, nose and mouth?
The four major pieces of public art in Chicago are within walking distance of one another. If you start at the Daley Center to see the Picasso, the Miro sculpture is across the street and Chagall's Four Seasons and Calder's Flamingo can be visited by heading south on Dearborn St.
In looking at my handy Chicago pocket map, I noticed a section on sculpture. In addition to all of the fabulous indoor galleries. downtown Chicago has quite an outdoor art gallery. All these gorgeous sculptures, by famous artists like Picasso, all on the street and all free. According to my map, there are 13 in all. I've got five here, all within six blocks of each other, and all located within The Loop.
By the way, I named them by the map and my memory. If I misidentified any, please let me know and I'll correct myself - and give you all the credit.
Placed on this square the year I was brought to this earth (1967), Picasso's untitled piece (popularly called, well, "The Picasso") graces Daley Plaza like some bull-skulled vulture hovering over this center.
I like it! It's huge. It's weird. And it's 3-dimensional! So all those fractured Picasso cubist pieces I've been trying to coalesce into a workable figure in my mind has come to fruition in this work. The piece may also be seen on a smaller level at the Art Institute.
Other people like it, too! Despite being a horribly gusty day (gusty? in Chicago? you don't say!) in 30-some-odd degree wintry weather (March 2008), some gutsy people were milling about the square getting their photo ops with this creature. When Ian & I stopped by on our way back to Union Station (we'd gotten turned around - LOL), the place was milling about with people then, too, with folks trotting around snapping photos.
Didn't take a photo of it (wouldn't ya know) but there is an entrance to The Pedway to the right as you face this artwork.
Just across the street is another Picasso so keep your eyes peeled for it (5th photo).
Photos: May 2009 & March 6, 2008
An enigma from the day of its arrival, this giant sculpture was donated to "da grate city ah Chicagah" by Pablo Picasso. The photo shown (at left) was printed as a commemorative postcard at the time of its dedication in 1967.
Chicago is chock-full of public sculpture from its plazas to its bridges. The most famous one is the Picasso in front of City Hall. Unveiled in 1967, it marked the transition from statues of famous people to sculpture as a modern public art form.
One of the most interesting pieces of art you will see anywhere in Chicago is the famous Picasso statue in Daley Plaza.
It was built in Gary, Indiana and unveiled on August 15, 1967. Picasso provided this art as a gift to the people of the city.
From the front it looks like a strange seahorse but from one particular angle in the rear you can clearly make out the profile of a woman's face. There are many theories about who this might be.