Monday, February 16, 2009

Chicago's Bean (aka The Cloud Gate)


Downtown Chicago has several parks along the lakefront, many of which I will be detailing over the summer. Basically the whole lake front is covered in parks, but the most grand is Millennium Park.

Millennium Park is too large to discuss in just one post and it has so many unique features. Some are unique in a too modern way (I will talk about the Gargoyles at another date), but my favorite is "The Cloud Gate", or as we locals call it "The Bean".

The Bean is a giant polished steel lima bean shaped object that reflects the whole sky line with fun-house mirror distortions. On the underside of the sculpture is the spoon-like belly called the omphalos. This 12 foot high mirrored indentation seems to toss light and images helter-skelter. I always get a funny sense of vertigo when I stand underneat and look up. Anish Kapoor, the artist, designed it to look like liquid Mercury.


"What I wanted to do in Millennium Park is make something that would engage the Chicago skyline…so that one will see the clouds kind of floating in, with those very tall buildings reflected in the work. And then, since it is in the form of a gate, the participant, the viewer, will be able to enter into this very deep chamber that does, in a way, the same thing to one's reflection as the exterior of the piece is doing to the reflection of the city around."
-Anish Kapoor

I am usually not a huge fan of modern art, but this piece has captured my imagination. Perhaps it is because how accessible it is to the public or the fun memories of taking friends and family to it. The top picture is from Millennium Park's web site. The others were taken a year and a half ago. That's my hubby and my friend trying to climb the bean below and me and my hubby posing over to the left. Children of all ages definitely can have a great time playing around of this Bean.



My Town Monday is the brain child of Travis Erwin. For other locations to visit please go to Travis' site here.

22 tidbits:

strugglingwriter said...

Cool photos.

I imagine the bean one day opening up and a bunch of aliens coming out. It looks like a futuristic spaceship to me.

Paul

Lauren said...

@paul- lol. It does kinda look like a spaceship!

Barrie said...

My kids would love it!

Clare2e said...

I lived there before Millenium Park and remember my fist visit back after the debut of The Bean. I generally agree with you about ugly public art, but the Bean's so busy reflecting back the prettiness around it-- and is so accessibly appealing-- I like it, too. Hot to the touch in the summer time, though, as I recall.

Travis Erwin said...

Interesting. I like the liquid mercury description.

debra said...

Seems like the Bean is interactive! It's great when folks interact with art.

Lauren said...

@Barrie- Whenever I go there I always see tons of kids playing tag and having the best time around this Bean.

@Clare2e- It can get pretty hot in the summer, but much cooler than I expected.

@Travis- Until I wrote this article I never realized that was what the artist was going for. I actually thought it was really called "The Bean" up until about six months ago!

@debra- I agree. The interactivity is the best part. I think it's a great way to show people that art can be relevant. Gateway art, quite literally.

Charles Gramlich said...

I love that silver sculpture thing. Makes me think of an alien spacecraft.

paintandink said...

Ooooooh, what FUN! I love it... should I be lucky enough to visit Chicago again, I will be sure to visit this sculpture specifically.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Chicago is my favorite US city and the park just made it even better.

Lauren said...

@charles- Yeah, it's crazy looking!

@paint and ink- It's pretty fun. The most fun is watching people watch it and about 10% of the time there is an artist painting it, which is cool to watch.

@pattinase- It's in Millennium Park, fairly close to the hotel areas. Although, I'd only recommend checking it out in the summer. It's colder in the park because of the lake so close.

Barbara Martin said...

I like it, though rather than a spaceship, I can see it being a portal to another place. It transcends space and time with the reflections. Good post.

Poetikat said...

Dear Lauren, This is such a cool blog! I love the look and the warm and friendly feel of it. I will certainly be following you from now on.
Thanks for coming by Poetikat's Invisible Keepsakes. Please come over again and do check out my other blog, "Poetikat's Blasts From the Past" where things may be from the past, but common threads remain the same.

Sincerely,

Kat Mortensen

Lauren said...

@Barbara- Actually, from what I have heard, I think that is kinda what the artist was going for. You must be more cultured than I. :)

@Poetikat- I shall have to go check out your other blog. Sounds neat. Thanks for the add!

Barry said...

Looks like you bean having a lot of fun with art!

Raph G. Neckmann said...

I love this Bean! It looks great fun - if it is indeed a portal as Barbara Martin suggests, maybe I could bring my family to see it!!

The Blonde Duck said...

Now if they just put it in a giant burrito, I'd be happy.

Lauren said...

@Barry- I always have fun with art! Well, art that looks like it popped out of a sci-fi novel ;)

@raph- I don't know about the portal thing. I will have to look into it :-P

@duck- A giant burrito to go with the giant bean would be totally awesome! Now I'm hungry for lunch...

justin manas prince jaspher ligin said...

attractive photos and attarctive places

Christina said...

Looks like a blast! I need a vacation so I can check that place out. Those pictures are really cute.

Barry said...

It's been a little quite here recently Lauren. Are you okay?

Lauren said...

@Barry- Thanks so much for asking. I've been pretty sick recently and, according to my dentist, it was because I had very infected wisdom teeth. Last week I got them removed. Now I have dry sockets. Let's just say that it's not been a fun past couple of weeks. I hope to be back to my regular blog schedule next week. Maybe I will post about it...

@Christina and @Justin- Sorry I didn't comment on your comments earlier. Thanks for the compliment on my pics. They were fun to take. :)

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