Sculpture Catalog

Home » Sculpture News and Events » Cloud Gate - A Magic Mirror in Chicago

Sculpture News and Events

Cloud Gate - A Magic Mirror in Chicago
2008-08-08

Cloud Gate - A Magic Mirror in Chicago

Sculpture can not go on without creativity and inspiration. What is really hard for sculptors is to come up with a great idea that no one has ever think of. Anish Kapoor is just one among those talented artists with Cloud Gate being his famous artwork. 

About Cloud Gate
Cloud Gate is this British artist's first public outdoor work installed in the United States. The 110-ton elliptical sculpture is forged of a seamless series of highly polished stainless steel plates, which reflect the city's famous skyline and the clouds above. A 12-foot-high arch provides a "gate" to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a variety of perspectives.

Inspired by liquid mercury, it is one of the most popular sculptures in the United States. The sculpture's exterior reflects and transforms the city's skyline and visitors are invited to walk around and under Cloud Gate's 12-foot (3.7 m)-high arch. On the underside of the sculpture is the "omphalos", a concave chamber that dramatically warps and multiplies reflections. The sculpture builds upon many of Kapoor's artistic themes although many tourists simply view the sculpture and its unique reflective properties to be a great photo taking opportunity. 

History Of Cloud Gate
In 1999, Millennium Park officials and a group of art collectors, curators and architects reviewed proposed sculpture designs by 30 different artists. The committee chose internationally acclaimed artist Anish Kapoor's proposed sculpture over artist Jeff Koons's proposal to erect a permanent 150-foot (46 m) slide at the park. Kapoor's contract states that the constructed piece should be expected to survive for 1000 years. His proposed design, eventually named Cloud Gate, was inspired by liquid mercury and designed to reflect Chicago's skyline. It is Kapoor's first public outdoor work in the United States.The stainless steel sculpture was originally envisioned at the southeast corner of the Lurie Garden, but park officials eventually decided to locate it at AT&T Plaza, its current location.

The sculpture was first nicknamed "The Bean" by the public and media outlets, and then officially named "Cloud Gate" by Kapoor months later. The name came from the fact that three-quarters of the sculpture's external surface reflects the sky and that the sculpture is sort of a gate into the sky.

The structure created numerous design dilemmas. There were concerns that it might retain and convey hot and cold temperatures in a way that made it too hot to touch during the summer and so cold that one's tongue might stick to it during the winter. It was also once believed that the extreme temperature variation might weaken the structure. Graffiti, bird droppings and fingerprints were potential problems as well, as they would affect the aesthetics of the sculpture. The most pressing issue was the desire to create a single seamless structure. Norman Foster thought such a plan was probably impossible.

Another problem was that the sculpture was originally estimated to weigh 60 short tons (54.4 t/53.6 long tons) because it was impossible to estimate the thickness of the steel compatible with the desired aesthetics. The final piece, however, weighs 110 short tons (99.8 t/98.2 long tons) and care had to be taken in supporting it. Fortunately, all the problems were solved at last. 

Praises Ever Got
Cloud Gate has become an icon of the city of Chicago. The public took an instant liking to it, affectionately referring to it as "The Bean." It has had tremendous drawing power, attracting locals, tourists and art aficionados alike. It is one of the most photographed attractions in the city, and its images are reproduced on internet websites and in travel, art and architecture magazines. The American Welding Society recognized Cloud Gate, MTH Industries and PSI by awarding them with the group's Extraordinary Welding Award. The sculpture contributed to Millennium Park being named among the 10 best architectural achievements of 2004 in Time.

The sculpture is tremendously popular, and is now mostly the piece by which Kapoor is identified. The piece has become so popular that Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley declared the day of the sculpture's dedication, May 15, 2006, to be "Cloud Gate Day". Kapoor attended the celebration, while Orbert Davis and the Chicago Jazz Philharmonic played the Davis-composed "Fanfare for Cloud Gate". Time describes the piece as an essential photo opportunity and more of a destination than a work of art, while one article in the New York Times describes it as a "tourist magnet" and another as an "extraordinary art object”. The USA Today calls the sculpture a monumental abstract work. The sculpture has been used as a backdrop in commercial films, notably in the recent Hollywood film The Break-Up, which had to reshoot several scenes because the sculpture was under cover for the initial filming. 

About Anish Kapoor
Anish Kapoor was born in Bombay in 1954, and currently lives and works in London. He attended the Hornsey College of Art (1973-77) and Chelsea School of Art, London (1977-78). Kapoor is one of a generation of British sculptors, along with fellow British sculptors Tony Cragg and Richard Deacon, who gained critical recognition in the 1980s and who share an interest in materials and use of abstract, organic form. In his early series 1000 Names (1989-90), the artist focused on geometry and color, installing arrangements of semi-circles, planes and other shapes coated in particles of bright pigment. In 1990 he represented Britain at the Venice Biennale with Void Field, an installation of rough sandstone blocks topped with black holes, and over the course of the decade his sculptures ventured into more ambitious, increasingly sublime manipulations of form and space. He won the Turner Prize in 1991 and in 2002 received the prestigious Unilever Commission for the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern in London.

Among his major permanent commissions is Cloud Gate (2004) for the Millennium Park in Chicago. Major solo exhibitions throughout his career have taken place at MAC Grand-Hornu, Belgium (2004); Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples (2004); Kunsthaus Bregenz (2003); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead (1999); Piazza del Plebiscito, Naples (1999); Hayward Gallery, London (1998); and Fondazione Prada, Milano (1995). Kapoor is represented by Gladstone Gallery in New York. 

At last, please allow me to end this article with the words said by Anish Kapoor; and you'll find what a serious and pure man he is.

"I hope what I have done is make a serious work, which deals with serious questions about form, public space and an object in space. You can capture the popular imagination and hold other points of interest, but that is not what I set out to do, although there is inevitably a certain spectacular in an object like this."

[ Back ]
Copyright © 2008-2009 Sculpture-info.com. All rights reserved.