Loop List: Places to Walk, Sculptures to See
When walking through the Loop, you will see massive buildings all around, restaurants with amazing food options on just about every street, and theaters showing award-winning and even world premier shows. But there’s something else you can experience in the Loop: art created by world-renowned artists. Start with Calder’s Flamingo and walk your way through some of the amazing artworks on display throughout the Loop, ending with the lions guarding the Art Institute of Chicago. And if you’re looking to see more art in Chicago, head into the Art Institute of Chicago and enjoy!
50 W. Adams St. | Federal Plaza | Alexander Calder
Flamingo is a Calder sculpture that was specifically commissioned for Federal Plaza by the United States General Services Agency. Unveiled on October 24, 1974, the sculpture stands 53 feet tall and weighs 50 tons. Visitors have the ability to walk under and through the sculpture since the feet of it are so small, leaving the majority of the plaza open to pedestrians. The work itself offers a bright contrast to the black buildings surrounding the plaza. It has been described as a drooping flower, a colossal spider, and a huge bird.
10 S. Dearborn St. | Chase Tower Plaza | Marc Chagall
Chagall’s Four Seasons is made up of thousands inlaid chips in over 250 colors, and it portrays six scenes of Chicago. According to Chagall, “the seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different ages.” The mosaic was created in France, and then installed in Chicago, where Chagall continued to modify the design. Chagall was present at the dedication of the work on September 27, 1974. In 1994, the panels of the mosaic were restored and a canopy was put up over it.
69 W. Washington St. | Brunswick Plaza | Joan Miró
Miró’s Chicago, also known as The Sun, The Moon and One Star and its nickname “Miss Chicago," is a sculpture made of steel, concrete, bronze, wire mesh and ceramic tile. This sculpture faces another iconic sculpture of the city, the Chicago Picasso. These two sculptures were originally supposed to be installed in the same year, but due to lack of funding, Miró’s Chicago was not installed until 1981. It was unveiled by Jane Byrne, Chicago’s first female mayor. The model for the sculpture can be seen at the Art Institute of Chicago.
50 W Washington St. | Daley Plaza | Pablo Picasso
The Chicago Picasso is an untitled piece of work that was dedicated to the people of Chicago in 1967. It stands over 50 feet tall and weighs 162 tons. Though it was originally considered a controversial piece, it has become a Chicago icon. When Picasso was approached about the project he was presented with gifts, including a White Sox blazer and a check for 100,000 dollars. However, he decided to do it for free. Picasso never actually visited the City of Chicago. He created a 42-inch model which was used to create the sculpture we see today. Fun fact: The sculpture and the Daley Center are both made of the same material, Cor-Ten steel.
100 W. Randolph St. | James R. Thompson Center Plaza | Jean Dubuffet
Monument with Standing Beast is a 29-foot-tall fiberglass sculpture that weighs more than 10 tons. It is made up of four elements that are said to represent an animal, a portal, a tree, and an architectural form. It was unveiled in 1984, and according to Dubuffet, it is a “drawing that extends into space.” This sculpture is one of three of Dubuffet’s monumental sculpture commissions. In fact, it is based on Hourloupe, a painting series by Dubuffet, and it was originally designed as a model in 1969. Visitors have the ability to walk through and touch the sculpture. Chicagoans have nicknamed the piece “Snoopy in a blender.”
201 E. Randolph St . | AT&T Plaza | Anish Kapoor
Cloud Gate, also known as “The Bean,” has become an iconic sculpture in the City of Chicago. It earned its name because 80 percent of the sculpture reflects the sky. It also reflects the Chicago skyline. The sculpture is very interactive as it allows the viewer to become part of the art by standing around the exterior or walking under its 12-foot arch. Even if someone decides to stand back and look, rather than go up and touch it, they still alter the reflection on the sculpture. Speaking of touching it, there are maintenance crews who wipe down the touchable parts of the sculpture several times a day. It also gets power washed, and the entire sculpture gets a thorough cleaning with 40 gallons of liquid detergent twice a year.
111 S. Michigan Ave. | Art Institute of Chicago | Edward Kemeys
The two lions have been guarding the west entrance of the Art Institute since May 10, 1894. They were part of a set of six created by Edward Kemeys for the World’s Columbia Exposition. Two of the lions were selected by Kemeys after being commissioned by Mrs. Henry Field, who then gifted them to the Art Institute in 1893. Over the years, the lions have been spotted wearing Chicago Bears gear, Chicago White Sox hats, Chicago Blackhawks Helmets, and wreaths during the winter. Each lion has an unofficial name given to them by Kemeys. The south lion is “stands in an attitude of defiance,” and the north lion is “on the prowl.” Fun Fact: The north lion is also referred to as Arty, and he serves as the mascot of School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
(Photo: James John Jetel for Chicago Loop Alliance | jjjetel.com)