Chicago’s Picasso: Payment? Not so priceless!

Picasso sculpture

[photo courtesy of publicartinchicago.com]

Behold, I bring you a public Pablo Picasso sculpture, right here in good ‘ol CHItown.  What’s that you say? Or rather, what on earth is it, you say? Why, no one really knows for sure.  Ah, the intrigue, the mystery, the…………….

Wait! I’ll get back to my work at hand, and that is to provide you with some information that you most certainly wanted to know about, but clearly were afraid to ask.  Hhhhhmmm, that doesn’t sound right either.  Unless you are the prolific Picasso type and/or have been to Chicago and sauntered by this 50-foot monumental metal mammoth, you may not be aware of its existence.
I am about to change that; or, at the very least, provide you with a few minutes of head scratching regarding our steel soul.

The sculpture was dedicated on August 15, 1967; this took place in Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago.  Here is a photo of said event (oh please, feast thine eyes for a moment or two; don’t worry, you know I’ll wait)!

picasso_statue_daley_plaza_chicago_1967.png

[photo courtesy of chicago.ettractions.com]

At this point in my post you have me wondering if you are wondering how this all came about? No? Yes? Ah, go on, let me tell you! Well, legend has it that…………. Ah, no legend, I’ll stick to the facts on this one, shall I?  An architect who worked on the Daley Center (which can be seen behind our Picasso) wrote to the artist in the form of a poem (and believe you me, I am frightfully curious as to what that poem contained) asking if he would create a sculpture for Chicago.

Picasso replied to this request noting the following:  “You know I never accept commissions to do any sort of work, but in this case I am involved in projects for the two great gangster cities” (the other being Marseille, France). [quote courtesy of wikipedia.com]

A good friend of mine was in Chicago last summer.  We spent some time at the Picasso sculpture.  My friend has a background in art and an appreciation for many types of art.  What he didn’t expect was this:

Picasso sculpture kids playing

[photo courtesy of s3.amazonaws.com]

Mortified to see children using our Chicago Picasso as a slide was almost too much for my friend to bear.  Interestingly enough, there has never been a name given to this metal marvel.  Picasso never revealed what the (if anything) sculpture represented.  The closest guess was made by Picasso’s grandson, Olivier Widmaier Picasso.  Olivier felt the sculpture represented a woman named, “Lydia Corbett” who posed for Picasso on many occasions.  I shall not get into that whole realm of Picasso’s life, lest this post morph into something unrecognizable.  Ah, the irony is not lost on my previous statement, for isn’t that what Picasso’s work was all about?

picasso_statue_daley_plaza_chicago_at_night.png

[photo courtesy of chicago.ettractions.com]

But I digress; I shall now reveal the payment Picasso received for his, um, steel work:  a t-shirt.  Yes, he most certainly did.  Offered $100,000 to create our statue, Picasso refused the payment, and proclaimed that all he wanted was a t-shirt from the Chicago Cubs baseball team.  Yes, that’s the word on the street.  Perhaps Picasso is out there somewhere lamenting that he created a magnificent monument for Chicago, and all he got was a t-shirt.  And look, it appears the statue is a fan, too.

picasso sculpture chicago cubs hat

[photo courtesy of horschgallery.com]

If you find yourself in “The Windy City”, shimmy on over to Daley Plaza and have a peek at the Picasso; try the ‘what the heck is this’ game and let me know what you come up with.  Chances are you’ll be as Picasso perplexed as the rest of us.  Then again, perhaps your opinions will allow the fine citizens of Chicago to finally stop shaking our collective heads…..sideways of course.  After all, Picasso seen from an angled view can elicit quite an interesting view; it’s all about perspective, Picasso style!

  41 comments for “Chicago’s Picasso: Payment? Not so priceless!

  1. March 3, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    To me, it kind of looks like an armadillo making friends with a mouse that is standing up to meet him.

    Like

    • March 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      *LOL* Love it!! Thanks for your comment!! Cher xo

      Like

  2. March 3, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    I’m surprised it hasn’t been blown away by the wind in your windy city. Just joking. It is actually a handsome woman, full figure and appears to be a one eyed Goddess. What do you call those one eyed giant?

    Like

    • March 3, 2014 at 9:03 pm

      *LOL* Yes, dear Seeker, I am surprised too! Oh I love your interpretation! Do you mean a “Cyclops”? Cher xo

      Like

      • March 3, 2014 at 9:05 pm

        Yes, Cyclops… Thank you. So what did the city use the $100K since Picasso want’s Tshirt only?

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      • March 3, 2014 at 9:09 pm

        The sculpture cost about $350,000 in total but the primary funding was from 3 different charities! Thank goodness! *LOL* Cher xo

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      • March 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

        Ah, sounds much better.

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      • March 3, 2014 at 9:11 pm

        Yes, I quite agree! So a t-shirt is what he got and the city acquired a goddess, Picasso style!!

        Like

  3. Don
    March 4, 2014 at 12:28 am

    Just a wonderfully fascinating post.

    Like

    • March 4, 2014 at 10:15 am

      Thank you so much, Don! I am so happy you enjoyed it! Cher xo

      Like

  4. March 4, 2014 at 3:05 am

    Hi Cher, what a great story! I love it. It makes me think of all those T-Shirts that say “My sister went to London and all I got was this lousy T-Shirt” They must exist in Chicago too? I think your fabulous sculpture needs a T-shirt of its own that says “Picasso made this sculpture and all he got was a lousy T-shirt.” I also love the idea of the kids using it as a slide – that’s what I call art for the people, which is exactly what it should be.

    Like

    • March 4, 2014 at 10:18 am

      Veronica, that is hilarious and a wonderful idea! That is exactly the premise behind my words about Picasso out there somewhere complaining about his ‘payment’ after creating this sculpture! *LOL* The ‘lousy t-shirt’ craze was my inspiration! Thank you for your great comments! Cher xo

      Like

  5. March 4, 2014 at 10:13 am

    A t-shirt? Really? Wow!

    Like

    • March 4, 2014 at 10:20 am

      Apparently that’s all he wanted for payment despite the fact he was offered $100,000!! Cher xo

      Like

  6. March 4, 2014 at 10:41 am

    I love that all Picasso wanted was a T shirt! Creating art for art’s sake! A true artist!!! I don’t know how I could have missed a 50 foot Picasso sculpture, but I don’t remember ever visiting it when I was in Chicago! How in the world did I miss that???!!!!

    Like

    • March 4, 2014 at 10:47 am

      Shelli, isn’t that amazing that all he wanted was a t-shirt? *LOL* I wonder if perhaps you didn’t walk around the West Washington Street area? That is where Daley Plaza (and our Picasso) are located. You may not have been in that area; there are lot of office buildings, post office, that sort of thing. But if you come back, please check it out!! Cher xo

      Like

      • March 4, 2014 at 10:49 am

        I will for sure! I loved Chicago!!! I was there for a whole summer. I call it, “New York lite”. As in it’s got the architecture, great food, great culture, but downtown is surprisingly clean + people are so nice!

        Like

      • March 4, 2014 at 10:51 am

        New York lite! I love it! I’ve never been to NYC, but it goes without saying that I know how BIG it is! Wayyyyy too big for me!! Oh then you absolutely must come back! Get away from the steel and glass of Van!!!

        Like

      • March 4, 2014 at 10:54 am

        I’d love to!!! Have you ever read Devil in the White City? About the murders during the Chicago World’s Fair? But it’s fascinating because it also discusses the architects + landscapers that shaped NY + Chicago during the turn of the century.

        Like

      • March 4, 2014 at 10:57 am

        I haven’t but my husband has. He’s a huge fan of architecture and knows quite a bit about the 1893 World’s Fair. In fact, there is a year-long exhibition at the Field Museum about the fair:

        http://worldsfair.fieldmuseum.org/

        We plan on going sometime; hey, perhaps I’ll write a post about it! Thanks, Shelli, you’ve helped me with a new post!!

        Like

      • March 4, 2014 at 7:24 pm

        🙂

        Like

  7. March 4, 2014 at 5:26 pm

    Oh, I do love this; the sculpture and the kids using it as a toy are fine enough, but that Picasso wanted only a Cubs shirt as payment is somehow perfect.

    About a decade back someone set up on Singapore’s Orchard Road (the big shopping district) a bunch of Dali-inspired statues, which was great for photographing and wandering about in wonder. It’s wonderful how things like that can bring life to a city block that’s already vibrant.

    Like

    • March 10, 2014 at 10:37 am

      It really is, isn’t it, Joseph? It literally changes the entire feeling of a city block. Orchard Road sounds divine! Cher xo

      Like

  8. March 5, 2014 at 3:26 am

    Cher, I just wanted to nominate you for the Sunshine Award. Your blog is amazing and I so grateful you take time out of your day to writer and share your world. Thank you for all you do.

    Like

    • March 5, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Oh my dear, thank you so much! I am extremely honored and grateful. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate this award from you. Bless you! Cher xo

      Like

      • March 6, 2014 at 2:46 am

        Cher you are so awesome! Your blog rocks. Have a great and sunny day.

        Like

      • March 6, 2014 at 9:22 am

        Right back at you, my dear!! Cher xo

        Like

  9. Professions for PEACE
    March 5, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Oh how much do I adore your writing style my friend! Such delight it is to learn AND laugh as I read and marvel at every word. Your blog is an absolute joy, and makes this northerner realize I really do want to visit the Windy City even when I hadn’t realized it before! And while your artist-friend couldn’t stand the kids using it as a slide and would’ve perhaps preferred a protective fence around it, I have a feeling Pablo himself looks down and laughs when his mysterious masterpiece is so enjoyed! Love this post Cher.
    XO big hugs from a big fan 😉 Gina

    Like

    • March 5, 2014 at 9:24 pm

      Well my dear Gina, I am feeling so much gratitude for your words. Thank you!! Yes, I do wonder what Mr. Picasso is thinking; perhaps this is what he had in mind after all. Or he is wondering why no one has figured out what the statue is all about! *grin* I think it’s suppose to be what the ‘beholder’ thinks it should be. With big hugs back to you, my friend! cher xo

      Like

  10. March 5, 2014 at 3:07 pm

    What a charming post! Thanks for your visit. Do return again soon and often. Cold smiles. . . .

    Like

    • March 5, 2014 at 9:27 pm

      Ah, bless! Thank you so much! I shall do that soon and often for certain! With many blessings and hugs, Cher xo

      Like

  11. March 6, 2014 at 10:47 am

    Looks like an ear. Was he the one who cut his ear off?

    Like

    • March 6, 2014 at 10:50 am

      I believe that was the artist van gogh. He was the artist who created, “The Starry Night”. I think so? Hmmmm, now I am wondering if I am right or not!

      Like

      • March 6, 2014 at 10:55 am

        Ooops! Wrong ear, I mean, eartist. (laughs) I am the amateur when it comes to art appreciation. Do forgive my innocence, er, ignorance. Hahaha!

        Like

      • March 6, 2014 at 10:57 am

        *biggest grin* Well you are in good company, my dear because I am the same. Let’s just say we are innocent in the way of art. I love art, but I am not very versed in it. Except for Norman Rockwell, the American artist! Other than that, nope! *grin* We can learn together through my silly posts!!! Cher xo

        Like

      • March 6, 2014 at 11:07 am

        I look at clouds more nowadays. (laughs) It’s free and I do not have to go elsewhere. I’ll have to see real art in blogs like yours. Keep them coming.
        I might learn a thing or two along the way. 🙂

        Like

      • March 6, 2014 at 12:57 pm

        Ah dear belsbror, Methinks the real art is what YOU see in the Cloud Farm. Now THAT is the most joyful art of all!!! Cher xo

        Like

  12. April 24, 2015 at 3:52 pm

    VERY COOL! Love the art 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • April 24, 2015 at 3:56 pm

      Isn’t it cool! Every time I walk by this piece, I always smile thinking, wow, that’s actually a Picasso!! 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Tracie Juricka
    November 2, 2016 at 1:53 pm

    Why doesn’t the Picasso sculpture wearing the Chicago Cubs hat like it has in the past!? We were not even close to winning the World Series as we are today- 2016 and every other sculpture in Chicago has a hat but not the Picasso at the Daley Plaza?? After reading your article and learning Picasso only wanted a Cubs T-shirt for payment to create that iconic piece of art leaves me even more perplexed as to why it is not sporting the usual Cubs hat!!??

    Like

    • November 2, 2016 at 2:31 pm

      Very good question, Tracie! I wonder that too!

      Like

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