Public Arts to Visit in the Chicago Loop

Chicago is a veritable paradise for public art. Legendary artists such as Picasso, Calder, and Dubuffet adorn the Loop, turning it into an open-air art museum for anyone to enjoy.

Here’s are pieces of important downtown public art that every Chicagoan, and visitor, should know.

Cloud Gate

Image from Flickr / Edwin Wagner

Location: 201 E. Randolph St.

Chicago, IL 60601

Since its installation in 2006, Millennium Park's Cloud Gate sculpture, sometimes known as "The Bean," has become one of Chicago's most recognizable and photographed works of public art. The 66-foot-long polished metal artwork, designed by British artist Anish Kapoor, casts a wide-angle reflection of the downtown skyline and is an incredibly entertaining place to shoot photos.

Art Institute of Chicago Lions

Image from Flickr / Joseph Hollick

Location: 111 South Michigan Avenue

Chicago, IL 60603

The two bronze lions outside the Art Institute of Chicago are among the city's earliest works of public art.  Since 1894, the enormous cats, designed by artist Edward Kemeys, have kept guard along Michigan Avenue. The Art Institute of Chicago now decks out the renowned sculptures in holiday garb and in the colors of Chicago sports clubs during playoff runs.

Buckingham Fountain

Image from Flickr / Pam Broviak

Location: 301 South Columbus Drive

Chicago, IL 60605

Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park is one of Chicago's oldest and most well-known icons. It was consecrated in 1927 and was designed by architects Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett in an opulent French Baroque style. During its hourly displays, the fountain blasts 1.5 million gallons of water up to 150 feet in the air from its basin.

The Picasso at Daley Plaza

Image from Flickr / Jim Hill

Location: 69 West Washington St., # 1900 Chicago, IL 60602

It's astonishing that right in the midst of Daley Plaza, Chicago has a 50-foot original Pablo Picasso sculpture. However, many Chicagoans mocked the avant-garde, abstract piece when it debuted in 1967, calling it an insect and a baboon. People have grown to admire "The Picasso" through the years, and it has become one of Chicago's great emblems.

Art on The Mart

Image from Flickr / Brian Kay

Location: 278-294 W Wacker Dr, Chicago, IL 60606

Art on The Mart is the world's largest permanent digital art project of its sort. Obscura Digital and Valerio Dewalt Train Associates converted the Merchandise Mart's limestone facade into a 2.5-acre canvas for digital expression using 34 projectors. Despite the fact that it only began in late 2018, Art on The Mart has already established itself as a fun spectacle that can be enjoyed from the Riverwalk.


Image from Flickr / l'air de rien

Location: 50 West Adams Street

Chicago, IL 60610

The Flamingo by Alexander Calder was inaugurated in Chicago's Federal Center Plaza in 1974, despite the fact that the artist's signature suggests it was completed a year earlier. The vivid red color of the steel sculpture shines out against the dark backdrop of its modernist surroundings. Calder's creation has appeared in a number of films, most notably in the sequence in Ferris Bueller's Day Off in which Cameron and Sloan contemplate life after high school.

Monument with Standing Beast

Image from Flickr / Brian Kay

Location: 100 West Randolph St.

Chicago, IL 60601

In front of the Helmut Jahn-designed Thompson Center at 100 W. Randolph, this 10-ton sculpture by artist Jean Dubuffet debuted in 1984. The piece is made up of four interconnecting components and invites visitors to wander through it. The Thompson Center appears to be on the verge of being sold, and it's unclear whether Monument with Standing Beast will be adequately protected.

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