Public Artwork Chicago Bean

Public Artwork and  The History of the Famous Chicago ‘Bean’

Public artwork is captivating and often holds layers of unspoken meaning behind every detail of its creation. Communicating through art is one of the most effective ways to spread a message and make an impact.

When you think of iconic public art displays, the famous Chicago Cloud Gate or more commonly referred to as ‘The Bean’ should come to mind. It’s been featured in countless films and serves as a city symbol, drawing attention daily from locals and tourists alike. It is one of the most photographed attractions for anyone living in or visiting Chicago. Why is it so special and what is the history behind it?

That’s what we’ll be exploring in more detail.

Exploring the Public Artwork of Cloud Gate

In 2004, 30 different artists pitched their design proposals to city government officials, but Sir Anish Kapoor won the opportunity to create the now-famous art structure, Cloud Gate. Located in Millennium Park along The Magnificent Mile — one of the most historic downtown areas of Chicago, you’ll see the impressive construction of public art. 

Inspired by the remarkable downtown Chicago skyline, Sir Anish Kapoor wanted to create a structure that would enhance and depict its unique beauty. People are drawn to its impressive size and wide-scale reflection from all angles. As a magical showpiece sculpture, one of its unique features is that it allows anyone photographing others to be in the photo with them. 

Why Is It Called ‘The Bean’?

Although it was not meant to look like a bean, it is shaped like one nonetheless and most people know it by this reference. However, its original intention was to resemble a rounded gate due to its curved shape that not only reflects the sky but also bends downward.

The artist also found inspiration for this project from the element of liquid mercury and wanted it to resemble the same reflective properties. By doing so, he made this public art display substantially unique and unlike any other global public art display. Visitors are able to touch the structure and interact with it up close experiencing its reflective qualities. The lower curvature of the structure allows visitors to walk underneath ‘The Bean’ and explore more warped and reflective space. Although it is a massive artwork, it appears as lightweight as a cloud. 

More Fun Facts:

  • The stainless steel exterior is seamlessly welded to appear as a single piece of material
  • It is 66 feet long, 42 feet wide and 33 feet high
  • The surface is still safe to touch during the hottest summer day

Chicago Isn’t the Same Without It

Although, it’s been less than 20 years since its reveal, ‘The Bean’ branded Chicago unlike any other pre-existing work of public art. Cloud Gate should serve as a powerful reminder to any aspiring artist of the potential your concept may serve a city or local community. It’s a must-see landmark that is inextricably associated with Chicago. Making that a reality is highly impressive and something that teaches the importance of public artwork. 

EG Structural Supports Better Diversity in the Arts

At EG Structural we have a passion for creating projects that inspire. We create timeless public art projects that embody the spirit of our clients and their community. Whether they’re a corporate entity or a municipality, we see what makes them special and design sculpture pieces that highlight their exceptionalism. 

If your organization is looking for a private commission sculpture piece or if you have questions about being more involved in public art, contact EG Structural today!

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