Tag: Daley Plaza

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)!


[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?


[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!

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