Chicago’s Picasso

Picasso new
Pablo Picasso’s gift to Chicago 50 years ago before oxidation gave it a  rusting patina.

The Daily Word prompt—PATINA

Fifty years ago when Pablo Picasso’s gift to the City of Chicago was unveiled, columnist Mike Royko described the tepid applause from a disappointed crowd of VIPs. According to Royko, “some people just stood there, frowning or blank-faced. It looked like “a giant insect that is about to eat a smaller, weaker insect.”

Picasso had given the sculpture to Chicago without ever explaining what the sculpture was intended for. So, on August 15, 1967, thousands of people gathered in Daley Plaza to witness the unveiling and dedication of this newest 50-foot piece of public art.

Picasso Unveiling

However, over the last fifty years, the sculpture has grown on Chicagoans and become a popular tourist attraction. Kids climb on it and slide down. Adults, visiting Daley Plaza, pose by it and take selfies.

The sculpture was built in a steel fabrication plant in Gary, Indiana of Cor-Ten steel, the same material as the exterior of Chicago’s Daley Center. Oxidation has given both the Daley Center and the Picasso a rusting patina. [See photo below}

Picasso Now
Fifty years later, oxidation has given it a rusty patina that some say contributes to its character.

Illinois Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Brooks dedicates a poem for the Chicago Picasso

Chicago's Picasso

Does man love Art? Man visits Art, but squirms.
Art hurts. Art urges voyages–
and it is easier to stay at home,
the nice beer ready.
In commonrooms
we belch, or sniff, or scratch.
Are raw.

But we must cook ourselves and style ourselves for Art, who
is a requiring courtesan.
We squirm.
We do not hug the Mona Lisa.
may touch or tolerate
an astounding fountain, or a horse-and-rider.
At most, another Lion.

Observe the tall cold of a Flower
which is as innocent and as guilty,
as meaningful and as meaningless as any
other flower in the western field.

When asked if in her poem she was satiring beer drinkers, Brooks said, “No, No, I’m not satirizing them, because I’m too close to them to do that. I ‘stay at home’ (mostly) and drink Pepsi-Cola. I can’t poke fun at them. But I do urge them — because after I saw the Picasso I admired it, and I’m glad it’s in Chicago — I do ask them to look at that statue or any other piece of art that might seem perplexing and consider it as we might consider flowers.

Read all of Ms. Brooks interview in the link below.




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Educator, Author, Blogger, and supporter of Independent Writers. One mystery novel, The Neon Houses, Find me on Twitter @boom_lyn.

3 thoughts on “Chicago’s Picasso

  1. Hi Linda. My parents both grew up in Chicago and when I was younger we would visit frequently. I didn’t have quite the same appreciation for art back then. Last time i visited Chicago with my kids we saw The Bean and visited the Art Institute. I envy Chicagoans and the access they have to great art.

  2. I found this piece very interesting! I knew nothing about this sculpture. It seems very Picasso to me:)

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