Miró in Chicago! (and other public art along the way)

How many times have I been to Chicago and walked past this sculpture, I mean, right past it, without even noticing it?

Joan Miro, The Sun, the Moon, and One Star, Chicago, 1969/81 (Brunswick Plaza, between the Cook County Administration Building and the Chicago Temple Building)

Many, many times. Because right across the street is this Picasso sculpture:

Pablo Picasso, The Chicago Picasso, 1967, Daley Plaza, Chicago

This time, though, I actually turned around and saw the Miró sculpture. Miró! Right there on the street! And making it even better, in the little courtyard behind the sculpture, a little playground crouches in the corner:

Playground behind Miro sculpture, Brunswick Plaza, Chicago

It doesn’t exactly look welcoming (although as I think about it, this is on a busy street, and no one wants kids running out into traffic, thus the fence), but I love that the detail on the playground enclosure clearly refers to the sculpture. How does it feel to play in a playground from which you can see both Miró and Picasso sculptures (for kids, probably like playing on any other playground!)?:

Miro playground

Playground behind Miro sculpture, Brunswick Plaza, Chicago

As we walked past the Miró sculpture, The Sun, the Moon, and One Star, then did a double take, turned around, went back, and basked in its glory for a few minutes, I thought about the Miró I’d seen at the Art Institute. Although this painting was made over 40 years earlier, the motifs are so similar:

Joan Miro, Personages with Stars, Oil on canvas, 1933, Art Institute of Chicago

Miró is one of those artists, it seems to me, whose work is unmistakable. Once you’ve seen some of his work, you’ll likely be able to recognize it almost every time, which is extremely satisfying. But this familiarity can also lead to overlooking it, to walking right on by. Yep, that’s Miró. Next? So it was particularly fun to be under a monumental Miró, to stop and look at it, walk around it, take some time to soak it in. Miró concentrated on the streets of Chicago.

Just for fun, in addition to the Picasso across the street, another piece of monumental public art is nearby. You can see it from the Miró/Picasso, behind the fountain and through the trees:

Jean Dubuffet, Monument with Standing Beast, from Daley Center, Chicago

And a close-up:

Jean Dubuffet, Monument with Standing Beast, 1984, John R. Thompson Center, Chicago

Dubuffet is one of my favorite artists, so I was thrilled to see this in the Art Institute on the same day:

Jean Dubuffet, The Grand Arab (He Only Has Sand), 1947, Oil and sand on canvas, Art Institute of Chicago

(More about Dubuffet another time!) These couple of blocks feel to me like the essence of Chicago. Twentieth century modern art in monumental form surrounds you, among both historic and contemporary skyscrapers. Surrealism, Cubism, and, well, Dubuffet, in downtown Chicago, for all to see. And then in front of the Willis (Sears) Tower, this:

Jeans sprouting flowers, outside the Willis Tower, Chicago

Jeans sprouting flowers, outside the Willis Tower, Chicago

Time Out Chicago hates them. I thought they were hilarious. In a city full of highfalutin public art, we also have jeans with flowers growing out of them.  As it should be.



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