Picasso had a knack for art that was hard to take your eyes off but equally
hard to make sense of, and this sculpture fits his style. Enticed by the
chance to create a city icon, Picasso generously agreed to donate this
sculpture to the city. He designed a scale model overseas and sent it to
Gary, Indiana, to be built.
When it was
unveiled in August 1967, city leaders were grateful for a source of city
pride in a decade that wasn't going well (though this was the summer before
the infamous police attacks on protesters at the Democratic convention).
The rest of Chicago, though, didn't fall in love with this piece right
away, and openly called it ugly. Picasso left the 50-foot, 162 ton sculpture
untitled, and Chicagoans, still scratching their heads over what the heck
it is (theories include Picasso's wife, his dog, and a cow), but now accustomed
to its presence in Daley Plaza, simply call it "the Picasso." When Picasso died in 1973, the city released a statement that said Picasso's gift to Chicago ensured that he would be "forever tied to the city he admired but never saw, in a country he never visited."
But the giant bookend may only have earned immortality after its front row seat for the police's pursuit of the Blues Brothers to Daley Plaza.
of Picasso unveiling from the City of Chicago
the Picasso from Mason
West and the Chicago
pictures from Mary Ann Sullivan