Chicago is famous for art, thanks to the Art Institute of Chicago. But you don’t need to pay an entrance fee — or even go indoors — to see impressive art. Here are five of my favorite pieces of outdoor Chicago art and sculptures, all along a one-mile walk to the Art Institute of Chicago.
1) Monument with Standing Beast (100 W. Randolph St.): Some say this sculpture by Jean Dubuffet looks like Snoopy in a blender. It’s supposed to incorporate a standing animal, a tree, a portal, an architectural form and a bowling pin. Just kidding about the bowling pin… but that’s the only thing I’ve found so far!
2) The Chicago Picasso (Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St.): Dedicated almost 50 years ago, this is my favorite sculpture in Chicago. Picasso never talked about his inspiration for this piece, so we are left guessing. Is it a woman? A bird with wings? If you look carefully, you can even see the silhouette of a nose, lips and chin (on the left in the photo above).
3) Miro’s Chicago (69 W. Washington St.): Directly across the street from the Picasso, wedged in between a government building and a church, is Joan Miro’s sculpture. With its arms raised skyward, the artwork feels mystical, especially because the secret space is quiet amid the bustling city.
4) “The Four Seasons” (10 S. Dearborn St.): I only recently discovered this gem by Marc Chagill, and I’m so glad I found it. The mural is on all sides of a rectangular box and has different scenes of people and birds, trees and buildings. If you look closely, you can see the artist’s name and 1972… even though the mural was dedicated in 1974.
5) Calder’s Flamingo (50 W. Adams St.): With a pop of red, this sculpture definitely stands out in the gray cityscape. I like snapping pictures of this piece from different angles, because it feels like it’s constantly changing as you walk under, around and and up close.
Map it out:
Here is a map of my one-mile public art walk… from the James R. Thompson Center all the way to the Art Institute of Chicago.