The Art Of Grant Park
7 February 2019
Grant Park is a beautiful expanse of green located between the city and Lake Michigan, located directly across from the luxury condominium residences at 1000M. The space, bordered to the north by Randolph Street and to the south by Roosevelt Road is considered “Chicago’s front yard.” It is home to many of the city’s most notable attractions, such as the Art Institute, Buckingham Fountain and Millennium Park. If you’re a Chicagoan you’re probably aware that the Park is also home to many public sculptures, but you may walk past them without giving them a second thought. Continue reading to learn more about some of Grant Park’s most iconic works of public art.
Agora is the name of the iconic cast iron army of sculptures that borders the southern end of Grant Park. Composed of 106 9-foot headless and armless figures, it was designed by Polish artist Magdalena Abakanowicz and placed in the park in 2006. The piece draws inspiration from Abakanowicz’s fear of crowds and is thought to mimic the bustling pace of crowds on Michigan Avenue.
The Bowman and The Spearman
Both created by Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic in 1928, The Bowman and The Spearman are bronze equestrian statues, positioned as if gatekeepers to Grant Park. Interestingly, the sculptures do not feature their namesake weapons, a stylistic choice of Mestrovic. He preferred for the weapons to be left to the imagination, focusing the viewer’s’ attention on the silhouettes of the rider and the horse. The idea to place large sculptures at the park entrance came from famed urban planner David Burnham in his 1909 Plan of Chicago, a strong influence on how the overall lakefront looks today.
Fountain of the Great Lakes
Located in the South Garden of the Art Institute, this bronze fountain depicts five women bathing with oversized sea shells, meant to represent the five Great Lakes. The piece was created by Lorado Taft in 1913 and is one of his best-known works. The women are arranged so that water flows through them in the same order that water flows through the Great Lakes.
General John Logan Memorial
General John Alexander Logan was an heroic Illinois-based Civil War general, also serving as an Illinois senator from 1871 to 1877. The statue was created by sculptors Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Alexander Phimister Proctor, and completed in 1897. The bronze figure is highly recognizable due to its placement at the top of a large staircase built into a hill, which houses the tomb for this war hero and esteemed politician.
Spirit of Music
This bronze sculpture was designed by Albin Polasek in 1923, and honors Theodore Thomas, the first conductor of the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra. Spirit of Music has been relocated many times, but it currently resides at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Balbo Drive.
The sculpture Magdalene, located at the intersection of Congress Parkway and Michigan Avenue, was created by Dessa Kirk and installed in 2005. It is inspired by the artists’ previous series of Daphne sculptures, which were originally located around Grant Park but moved to Northerly Island. Daphne is a figure from Greek mythology whose father turned her into a tree to protect her from the advances of the god Apollo. In the springtime, tulips line the female figure’s feet, and in the summertime the sculpture becomes part of the surrounding garden, as vines and flowers fill up the skirt of her dress.
Residents of 1000M will be literally surrounded by the beauty of Grant Park’s public art, but we encourage all to Seek Beauty and explore the Park’s captivating works. The list of public art in Chicago goes on and on! Visit chicagoparkdistrict.com for a complete listing.