Cloud Gate and Anish Kapoor
20 June 2019
Only a stone’s throw away from 1000M is one of Chicago’s most iconic pieces of public art and one of the largest permanent outdoor art installations in the world. Affectionately dubbed “The Bean” by tourists and locals alike, everyone knows and loves the monumental reflective steel sculpture in Millennium Park. But what is the story behind it?
Cloud Gate is a public art installation by London artist Anish Kapoor. It won the commission as a highlight in the new Millennium Park back in 2004 — though production of the work wasn’t finished until May of 2006. Now, the piece is part of iconic Chicago imagery, a never-missed item on lists of things to see in Chicago and cleaned six times a day just to clear away all the fingerprints of everyone who interacts with it.
The artist, Anish Kapoor, is known for his large works made of stone, saturated pigment and reflective steel. When creating Cloud Gate, he was inspired by liquid mercury. Created using computer technology and built by piecing together 168 massive stainless steel plates, Cloud Gate weighs 110 tons. The name Cloud Gate comes from the fact that 80% of its surface reflects the sky. The reflective steel also captures the city skyline in dramatic and sweeping curves, intriguing visitors to enter its central vortex, where they can see themselves warped and reflected across its underbelly.
Kapoor waits until after his sculptures are created to name them, though he says he never predicted the nickname that was given. Cloud Gate became dubbed The Bean for obvious reasons—the elliptical shape invites comparison. According to the artist, “The work itself has a complete circle of meaning and counterpoint. Without your involvement as a viewer, there is no story.”
Residents of 1000M can walk across the street to see Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate at any time, and visit his website to see more of his work.