The public art installations in Chicago are awesome and a walk through the Loop searching for our favourites was one of the highlights of our Chicago trip! This came as a surprise to me given I’m not particularly arty but I loved the fun and quirky sculptures that surprised us with appearances around street corners and in the city parks throughout the Loop. And the best bit? They’re totally free!
Check out our favourites below and, for some more Chicago inspiration, have a peek at the rest of our Chicago highlights here!
1 | Calder’s Flamingo
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a giant flamingo!! Red is the greatest colour in the world (it totally is!) and the 53 foot brilliant red Flamingo sculpture shines brightly in the middle of the dark surroundings of Federal Plaza. It gave me smile anyway!
Calder’s Flamingo, Federal Plaza
2 | Chagall’s Four Seasons
Chagall’s Four Seasons is a stunning mosaic made up 250 colours portraying 6 scenes of Chicago. Chagall maintained that ‘the seasons represent human life, both physical and spiritual, at its different ages’. The beautiful artwork wraps around a 70 foot long rectangular box and is protected by a glass cover.
Chagall’s Four Seasons, courtyard of Chase Bank building
3 | Dubuffet’s Monument with Standing Beast
The intriguing Monument with Standing Beast is said to represent a standing animal, a tree and a portal in architectural form. The fiberglass sculpture reminded me of Snoopy, Charlie Brown’s pet dog. Luckily art is all about personal interpretation, right?! Either way, it’s very cool!
4 | Miro’s Chicago
I’ve had a slight Miro obsession since I was introduced to Harlequin’s Carnival, one of Miros most recognisable pieces, in my schooldays. There’s no doubt Miro’s Chicago statue is my absolute favourite piece of public art in Chicago! The bronze model is 39 feet of steel, wire mesh, concrete, bronze and ceramic tile and stands across from the Picasso, one of the most famous pieces on the streets of Chicago.
Miro’s Chicago, between Cook County Administration Building and the Chicago Temple Building
5| The Chicago Picasso
The giant sculpture caused controversy when it was first erected in Daley plaza but the Chicago Picasso is now part of the city furniture! The sculpture is the centre point of the busy plaza and an excellent spot for some people watching, if only to see the kids having fun climbing and sliding over the statue!
6 | Millennium Park
Millennium Park has a massive collection of public art installations. Cloud Gate (aka the Bean!) is the most famous of the artworks and is in good company with the BP bridge and the Frank Gehry designed Jay Pritzker Pavillion. The giant glass brick towers of the Crown Fountain are where the fun is with their constantly rotating images and, on occasion, squirting water from the mouths of its subjects!
7 | The Art Institute of Chicago
The interior of the Art Institute of Chicago is a total gem (and an expedition in its own right) but be sure not to overlook the public art sculptures on the grounds which can be seen without paying the entrance fee. The Spirit of the Great Lakes Fountain captured my imagination with its five bronze nymphs representing each of America’s Great Lakes and, given flying is one of my favourite things in the world, I absolutely loved the Flying Dragon!
Taft’s Spirit of the Great Lakes Fountain:
Art Institute of Chicago, South Michigan Avenue
8 | Keep an eye out for the temporary installations!
The temporary art installations are the best fun! We spotted Borders, a collection of 26 life sized sculptures in Grant Park and even had a chat with one on a bench!
So there you have it, our 8 favourite public art installations on the streets of Chicago, an open air museum of sculptures and murals. We had great fun wandering around discovering these gems on our two mile walk around the Loop. Follow our route below to check them out for yourself!