Anish Kapoor is an Indian-born artist with multiple sculptures, paintings, and other artworks to his name.
Perhaps the most famous artwork he had ever created is Cloud Gate. Never heard of it? Sure you have! You probably just call it “Chicago’s Bean.”
Cloud Gate is referred to as the Bean because of its overt, bean-like shape when viewed from a lateral angle. However, the colloquial title, The Bean, doesn’t captivate the essence of the artwork nearly as well as Cloud Gate.
Anish Kapoor designed and built Cloud Gate between the years of 2004 and 2006 in Millenium Park, Chicago, where it remains as of 2019. Day or night, the 168 steel plates that compose the exterior of the structure mingle with the light of the city.
The purpose of this rather ambitious steel sculpture is 42 feet wide, 66 feet long, and 32 feet high. At all times, the polished, metallic finish reflects the light of the city, acting as a gate to both the clouds and the concrete jungle surrounding it.
The Origins of the Gate
Cloud Gate was intended to be more than a simple gate welcoming people to the park while blending into the structures of an archway, fence, etcetera. Instead, this piece took the form of a massive metallic structure that wrapped the clouds, city, and sky together in one simple stroke.
Kapoor wanted Cloud Gate to be more than that, more than the traditional, humdrum landscaping ornament that goes unnoticed in a public space, a role into which almost all gates and entryways fall today.
With the creation of a massive, steel structure that manipulates the Sun, stars, and the sky while creating the illusion that the viewers can simply walk right up into them, Kappor did just that.
One out of Two Proposals
In 1999, two proposals were sent before the planning committee for Millenium Park. The park might have had an entirely different look with a stranger and more peculiar feel had this “futuristic” steel bean not been chosen for construction in the park.
Pitched on a budget of $6 million, construction of Cloud Gate would go on to more than triple that, with the final cost of production weighing in at more than $18 million.
More of Kapoor
Although when people think of Anish Kapoor they think of the “Bean,” he has created multiple prominent public art displays each with a unique sense of import and smooth styling that plays with unity and light in an interesting manner.
One such piece is Kapoor’s Sky Mirror, a polished stainless-steel mirror almost exactly 35 feet in diameter. This piece accomplished much of what Cloud Gate accomplished, but was only on display for just over a month.
One of the greatest living contemporaries, at least in terms of fame and success, Anish Kapoor continues to surprise us by creating ingenious works of art that brilliantly capture the power of the sky, the turbulence of the clouds, and the human yearning for elevation and spirituality.