The Bean: Stainless Steel Endorphins

(photo courtesy of John Nguyen)

This brilliant (literally) public sculpture in Chicago’s Milleniun Park is officially named “Cloud Gate.” It’s creator, Anish Kapoor, put it like this:

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.

And he did it!” Cloud Gate” is a poetic, vivid title that expresses the vision of the artist, the sense of endless sky and clouds and city skyline — the gate to something magic and ineffable. No one, except for prissy curatorial types calls it “Cloud Gate.” Chicagoans embraced it with passion and proprietorship from the moment it was unveiled but they knew a bean when they saw one.  No pantywaist “Cloud Gate” for us. Everyone calls it The Bean.

Google The Bean Chicago Images for daylight pictures of The Bean. My son-in-law John took the pic at the head of this post in the late afternoon of a December day.Go clickety on the image to get a bigger  better view. (My daughter on the left, her fab bff Angela on the right.) I wish you could see the mobs of Asian tourists who are always there, snapping pix like mad. I wish I could give you a sense of the swirling stainless steel curves of The Bean that reflect the world — and you — back in a fun house view, if a great artist had fashioned the fun house. Kids especially love it — they twirl around in its concave underbelly looking up at themselves and squealing with joy.

I don’t know whether it was my daughter or Angela who said: “The Bean brings people together, because everyone oozes, well, delight!”  She was right. Public art for everyone, an accessible masterpiece. And it’s free.



Filed under Art, Born in Chicago, Free, Into the Mystic

5 responses to “The Bean: Stainless Steel Endorphins

  1. I DO love bright-and-shiny, and would love to see this one. There’s something about reflections in buildings, windows, bright surfaces which captures my imagination, and this is doubly nice, because of the constant kaleidoscope of images.

    I’m glad you showed it—we’ve never been down there, and I’ll look forward to it whenever we have to travel up that way.

  2. freakyfrites

    It’s the perfect public monument – beautiful and easy to love, accessible but special. You get closer and see yourself, stand back and see the city and its people. The fountains nearby are pretty nice, too!

  3. God, I love Chicago. I remember walkin’ around, kind of out of it having just visited the Louis C. Tiffany dome over the cosmetics department in the State Street Marshall Fields, turning a corner and running whappety right into that trippy giant Picasso! I mean, how often does a giant Picasso surprise a person? I love this Bean… kinda Elsa Perettiesque, ain’t it?

  4. Yes, it is kinda Elsa, but on a monumental scale. Chicago is my kind of town, and I love giving tours to out of town friends — in a few square blocks from the Bean, lessee — Daniel Burnham, Frank Lloyd Wright, Marc Chagall, Alexander Calder, Oldenburg. Louis Sullivan, Mies, and even more spectacular Tiffany than the dome at Fields. And I’m forgetting tonnes. And there is that lake….


  5. Ya, exactly, another cause of my sensory overload that wknd. was up-close-and-personal views of Burnham and Root pink sandstone proto-skyscrapers. Sure, I’d seen ’em in books, but I thought they were like the Greek gods, kind of myths, or something.

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