C is for Cloud Gate

In Chicago, C is for Cloud Gate. Whether it's winter, spring, summer or fall this memorable piece of public art perpetually draws a crowd. Always the quintessential Chicago photo op, Cloud Gate never disappoints, providing the perfect backdrop filled with reflected urban beauty.

For such an important emblem of the city, I'm bringing in the big guns. Today I'm pleased to share a guest post from Jen Lavender Thompson of art. advise. collect. to teach us all a bit more about this stunning work of art.

Ice Skating

I love that Molly asked me to write a guest post about the sculpture Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor for her A to Z Challenge. In fact, during our lunch date, I started rambling off facts about it just to prove I knew I could do it!

Having lived in the city for 13 years now, I was lucky to get to see the construction of this piece as it happened. The majority of the time, it was covered by a large tent, but I was there nonetheless. And I was especially there when it was unveiled for the first time in 2004 and then later when it was finally completed, in 2006.

A sneak peek of the interior of Cloud Gate before it was closed up
by Dutch photographer, Jan Theun Van Rees.

There are so many things I could share about this piece but I promised to be brief! So here are five things I think you should definitely know.
  1. It’s located in Millennium Park.
  2. It was 2 years behind schedule and $17 million dollars over budget… BUT no tax dollars were used. All funding came from donations.
  3. It is seamless. Many thought the design and its implementation would be impossible, but Kapoor and his team did it, and it’s beautiful. Strike that, it’s breathtaking. Every weld on the piece went through a 5-step process to ensure it was mirror like and undetectable.
  4. The lower half is wiped down twice a day by hand and the entire piece is washed twice a year with 40 gallons of Tide detergent. Whoa.
  5. It is affectionately referred to as “The Bean.” 
So go see it. It’s brilliant. It’s inspiring; it’s a great photo op. It will not disappoint you.

Having started in museum and arts administration, Jen Lavender Thompson made the move to corporate art curating and consulting 8 years ago. Now, out on her own, she works primarily in the private sector helping individuals build their personal art collections and incorporating them into their homes. JLT specializes in finding affordable art for any budget. In 2011, she launched her website, art. advise. collect. where she can be found blogging and encouraging her contemporaries to start collecting art.