Some of the best examples of modernistic public art in Chicago

Chicago is the third most populous city in the United States and a major center of culture, commerce and by the by, the American way of life. In addition to everything else, Chicago is also a very notable tourist destination for people from all over the country, as well as foreigners. And, oh God, there is quite a lot that a person can see while visiting this beautiful city in the magnificent state of Illinois.

Our list

Public art is an integral part of urban culture and Chicago contains some pretty notable examples of this particular form. Let us have a look at some of the most substantial among those.

·         Four Seasons


Marc Chagall is among the most influential artists of the 20th century and among the Founding Fathers of Modernism. The fact that a city can afford to display a work of his as a street art speaks volumes about the culture and the aspirations of its residents in our opinion. The Four Seasons can be seen  in Chase Tower Plaza in the Loop district of Chicago. It is a mosaic protected with glass canopy (installed after the major renovation that it went through in 1994). Chagall completed it in 1974 and it was later given to the people of Chicago by   Frederick H. Prince – a famous stockbroker and financier who founded the Prince Charitable Trust.

·         Miró's Chicago


Originally named The Sun, the Moon and One Star was created by Joan Miro. The structure is 39 feet tall and stands between the Cook County Administration Building and the Chicago Temple Building in the downtown Loop community area of Chicago. The City of Chicago paid half of the price for the work – some $ 250 000, which the latter half was collected by private donors and institutions. The Miro was completed and placed on its current location in 1981. Made of  steel, wire mesh, concrete, bronze, and ceramic tile, the sculpture was work of Joan Miro, one of the foremost Spanish sculptors of the 20th century. He lived and worked most of his life in Barcelona, and had his work interpreted in many ways, including as Surrealism, a sandbox for the subconscious mind, a re-creation of the childlike, and a manifestation of Catalan pride.


·         Flamingo



The Flamingo is the first work by an American artist on our list. Alexander Calder created the 53-foot structure in 1973, and it was placed in the Federal Plaza in front of the Kluczynski Federal Building  the next year. The weight of the Flamingo is 50 tons, and is made of steel in vermillion color. Actually, Calder liked to point out that the color of his sculpture is unique and thus is to be referred to as Calder Red. The Flamingo is pretty big in size, but thanks to its shape, it allows for people to walk underneath and around it, thus providing the viewer the opportunity to perceive the work in scale with the human size. Thanks to its particular color the Flamingo stands out among the grayish-blue landscape created by the office buildings in this part of Chicago. It is an island of art and creativity in the middle of the urban sea. Go check it out and you are going to see what we are talking about.

·         Monument with Standing Beast

The 1984 Monument with Standing Beast is one of the best recognized works by French artist, sculptor and painter Jean Dubuffet that can be seen in Chicago, or in the United States for that matter. The location of the piece is across the Chicago City Hall, right in front of the Helmut Jahn designed James R. Thompson Center in the Loop community area. It is one of the three monumental structures that had been commissioned to Dubuffet in the US. The basis for the concept of Monument with Standing Beast was the artist’s own series of paintings Hourioupe, which he was working on in the 1960s. The sculpture is 29 feet tall and it is often referred to by the residents of our beautiful city as “Snoopy in the Blender” – with much affection, of course.

In conclusion



These are only part of the fine examples of public art from the modernist tradition that are to be found across the territory of Chicago. There are many other pieces, as well as works from other movements that you can come across when you walk across the city. It is a thing truly worth exploring. Not only is public art changing the urban landscape, but it genuinely contributes to the quality of life and way of thinking of the people living and working around it. It is one of the reasons why Chicago is one of the greatest cities in the US.

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