Following the growing popularity of modern public art installation, Chicago?s Cloud Gate was first revealed in 2004 at the inauguration of the Millennium Park. Today, the Cloud Gate ranks as one of the most photographed destination in the Windy City and is an iconic Chicago landmark.
The Cloud Gate strengthened Chicago?s position as a city leading the way in providing its residents with beautiful public art masterpieces. The Cloud Gate takes after its predecessors such as the Flamingo found at the Federal Center made by Alexander Calder, the unnamed sculpture fronting the Chicago City Hall made by the famous art guru Picasso, and the Monument with Standing Beast created by Jean Debuffet situated at the James R. Thompson Center.
When it was unveiled, Chicagoans hastily Christened Cloud Gate the shiny metal art piece with the name ?the Bean? because of its seemingly odd shape which resembles a bean. While a lot of residents still call it as such, the official name is Cloud Gate because it serves as a gate to the Windy City which is mirrored on its shiny surface.
Cloud Gate was the pioneering public sculpture made by Anish Kapoor, an artist based in London but with Indian roots. The Cloud Gate was selected out of the two proposals that were put forward as a showpiece for the Millennium Park which was originally planned to debut back in 2000 just in time for the new millennium.
Kapoor?s blueprint for the Cloud Gate featured a stainless steel artwork composed of 168 individual plates, one centimeter thick each and are seamlessly put together. The total weight of the sculpture is 100 tons and measures 33 feet by 66 feet with a central arch 3.7 meters high. Visitors can go under the arch. When they look up at the arch?s large dent, they can see several distorted reflected versions of their faces.
After being pushed back for four years, the Millennium Park was finally opened in 2004 and the government of Chicago was very excited to show the Cloud Gate to the public, especially because it spent a staggering 23 million dollars in making the city?s newest public sculpture that they envision to be one of the famous attractions in the park. However, the completion of the Cloud Gate was more delayed than the completion of the Millennium Park and Kapoor was hesitant to unveil an incomplete piece. The sculpture is yet to be polished and the portions where the metal plates were welded together were still visible. But it was unveiled nonetheless, and Chicago residents did not like what they saw and were quick to regard it as merely a piece of big metal. The unfinished sculpture was again hidden to be finished. It was in 2006 that a finished Cloud Gate was unveiled and instantly gained the appreciation of Chicagoans.
Today, the Cloud Gate is as perfect as it could get and is a modern symbol of Chicago. It mirrors and disfigures Michigan Avenue?s skyline, the Chicago sky and the people walking past it who seem to not be able to resist touching its shiny face.