Outdoor Sculpture in Chicago

Illinois, Chicago Guide (A): Outdoor Sculpture in Chicago

From Jean Dubuffet's "Monument With Standing Beast" to Anish Kapoor's "Cloud Gate," this walking tour winds through down town Chicago, passing some of the city's landmark buildings and stopping at monumental sculptures commissioned from some of the most important artists of their time. Take this tour in the morning or early afternoon, and stop at one of the many coffee houses or cafes along the way for a morning pick-me-up or mid-day meal.
This article is featured in the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" on iTunes App Store and Google Play. You can download the app to your mobile device to read the article offline and create a self-guided walking tour to visit the attractions featured in this article. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and it works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Walk Route

Guide Name: Outdoor Sculpture in Chicago
Guide Location: USA » Chicago
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Article (A))
# of Attractions: 10
Tour Duration: 2.0 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 km
Sight(s) featured in this guide: "Monument With Standing Beast" by Jean Dubuffet   "Untitled" by Pablo Picasso   "Untitled" by Joan Miró   "Dawn Shadows" by Louise Nevelson   "San Marco II" by Ludovico De Luigi   "Agriculture and Industry" by Unknown   "Flamingo" by Alexander Calder   Art Institute Bronze Lions by Edward Kemeys   "The Crown Fountain" by Jaume Plensa   "Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor  
Author: Bridget Joyce
Author Bio: Bridget Joyce is an interactive writer and editor living and working in Chicago. She studied journalism and political science at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and fine arts at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has worked professionally writing travel articles, children's books, and marketing copy for a large technology company.
"Monument With Standing Beast" by Jean Dubuffet

1) "Monument With Standing Beast" by Jean Dubuffet

Standing in the power vortex between City Hall and the State of Illinois Center, this 29-foot fiberglass sculpture is the work of the French anti-establishment artist, Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985). His paintings and sculptures turned conventional notions of artistic beauty on their head and inspired the next generation of artists to explore a primitive style. Dedicated in 1984, "Monument With Standing Beast" is one of three large-scale sculptures Dubuffet rendered in his raw style, which...
"Untitled" by Pablo Picasso

2) "Untitled" by Pablo Picasso

Stop walking when you reach a 45 degree angle from the back corner of Pablo Picasso's (1881-1973) untitled sculpture. From this vantage point, you can clearly see the profile of a woman's head that gave this work its unofficial title, "Head of a Woman." The rectangular protrusion at the top is her nose, and the two points on the vertical sheet appear to be her lips. Picasso revolutionized the world of painting, but he still followed the traditional method of applying paint to...
"Untitled" by Joan Miró

3) "Untitled" by Joan Miró

Where Picasso's sculpture relied heavily on geometric forms and lines which characterized his cubist style, this untitled sculpture by Joan Miró (1893-1983) uses the artist's signature organic lines to create an abstraction of the female form. The ceramic tile inlays are said to represent the sun and moon, while the bronze headdress represents a star, giving the figure her unofficial title, "Sun, Moon, and One Star." The mixed media sculpture was dedicated on April 20, 1981,...
"Dawn Shadows" by Louise Nevelson

4) "Dawn Shadows" by Louise Nevelson

Louise Nevelson (1899-1988) is the first critically acclaimed female sculptor in twentieth-century America. She moved to the U.S. from the Ukraine with her family at age six, and began her artistic career in 1920. For the next 30 years, the artist worked in relative obscurity and lived in poverty. By the 1950's she began to gain the critical recognition that would secure her place in art history books. "Dawn Shadows" is one of Nevelson's signature large, monochromatic...
"San Marco II" by Ludovico De Luigi

5) "San Marco II" by Ludovico De Luigi

"San Marco II" stands midstride atop a fountain in the plaza outside the Chicago Stock Exchange. Designed by the famed Venetian painter, Ludovico De Luigi (b.1933), the horse is one of a series of equestrian sculptures by the artist. Dreamlike in its appearance, "San Marco II" is patterned with symbolic lines and swirls, reminiscent of De Luigi's surreal, classic-inspired paintings. Born into a family of painters and aware of the latest movements in modern art throughout...
"Agriculture and Industry" by Unknown

6) "Agriculture and Industry" by Unknown

The granite goddesses of "Agriculture and Industry" once stood on a ledge over the main entrance of the first Chicago Board of Trade building. The statues were lost after the building's demolition in 1929, which made way for the current art deco building designed by Holabird and Root. Almost 50 years after they vanished, the original "Agriculture and Industry" goddesses were discovered in a forest preserve outside of Chicago. They were restored and returned to their home...
"Flamingo" by Alexander Calder

7) "Flamingo" by Alexander Calder

Elephants, calliopes, and horses marched through the streets of Chicago in 1974 to dedicate this six-story red steel flamingo. Designed by Alexander Calder (1898-1976), the blazing sculpture stands in high contrast to the surrounding minimalist federal buildings by Mies van der Rohe. Calder was born into a family of artists, his father a sculptor and his mother a painter. Perhaps best known for his intricately balanced wire mobiles, Calder came to be an artist in his own right indirectly. After...
Art Institute Bronze Lions by Edward Kemeys

8) Art Institute Bronze Lions by Edward Kemeys

At first glance, the two lions that flank the steps of the Museum of the Art Institute of Chicago look exactly alike. But closer observation reveals that the south lion "stands in an attitude of defiance," while the north lion is "on the prowl," according to their sculptor, Edward Kemeys (1843-1907). A Civil War veteran and largely self-taught sculptor, Kemeys originally designed the animals for the World's Columbian Exposition where he displayed 12 of his sculptures....
"The Crown Fountain" by Jaume Plensa

9) "The Crown Fountain" by Jaume Plensa

Stone gargoyles spout water from the classical fountains of Europe. But for the "The Crown Fountain," Spanish sculptor Jaume Plensa (b. 1955) re-imagines ordinary Chicagoans as contemporary gargoyles as their faces appear on two 50-foot, LED-lit glass and steel towers, spout a stream of water from their mouth, and smile. A team of students and professors from the School of the Art Institute completed the video production for "The Crown Fountain." About 1,000 Chicago residents...
"Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor

10) "Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor

"It may be the most valuable insight into Anish Kapoor's (b. 1954) work to suggest that the presence of an object can render a space more empty than mere vacancy could ever envisage." (essay by Homi K. Bhabha on the artist's website). The polished-to-a-mirror steel "Cloud Gate" offers the perfect illustration to this point. It bends a reflection of the sky and skyline along its convex exterior, making the sculpture itself almost invisible. The center...

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