Anish Kapoor named his colossal sculpture Cloud Gate, but everyone in Chicago calls it the Bean. One hundred and ten tons of polished stainless steel, it seems to float above its cement plinth like a visitor from a distant and exciting future. In the five years since it was installed atop the AT&T Plaza in Millennium Park, it has become a Chicago icon. It receives more visitors than any destination besides Navy Pier, while voters in a Chicago Reader poll ranked it as the city’s best attraction—ahead of Wrigley field and Lake Michigan. Endlessly photographed, featured in movies and advertisements, lauded by critics and embraced by the public, Cloud Gate has become the city’s chosen mirror and the face it puts forward to the world. It might be the most popular work of contemporary art in America, the one work of abstract post-minimalist sculpture you would take your mom to see. The success of Cloud Gate is especially surprising given the fate of other major works of public art in recent decades, such as Rachel Whiteread’s House and Richard Serra’s Tilted Arc, both of which had to be torn down in the face of public opposition. So what is it about the Bean that makes it so different, so appealing?
more from Jacob Mikanowski at The Point here.