The Chicago Bean has quickly become one of the Windy City’s most popular tourist attractions. It’s metallic bubble like appearance proves popular among all ages. It is especially fascinating for photographers of all abilities who are inspired by the shape and stunning cityscape reflections it generates.
ANISH KAPOOR’S MAGIC BEAN | Darrin Henry
“What do you know for sure?”
I remember Oprah Winfrey asking Michael Jackson that question; it has stuck in my head ever since.
Well today, this is what I know for sure. Ready?
Nothing fascinates people more than looking at images of themselves! Yes everyone gets used to the regular images of themselves; bathroom mirror, selfies etc. But provide a new way for people to view themselves and you’ll think it was a lost jungle tribe being handed their first mirror!
First Time In Chicago
It’s our first day out in Chicago and we’re in Millennium Park, awestruck at The Cloud Gate Sculpture, designed by British artist, Anish Kapoor. It’s more commonly referred to as, The Chicago Bean because of its kidney bean shape. And yes, both Sharon and I are behaving like long lost jungle people.
The Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago’s Millennium Park was designed by Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor. It was inspired by liquid mercury. Start to finish, construction took over a year to complete from February 2004 to August 2005, although the official unveiling wasn’t until 15 May, 2006.
It is estimated the final cost of the Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago, Illinois, is $23 million. Funding was entirely through donations from individuals and corporations.
You can try to be cool about it but you will fail – sooner or later everyone seemed to have a go at waving to themselves in the Cloud Gate’s reflection.
We’re not even embarrassed because everyone else is doing the same thing! Like weirdos we are all grinning at ourselves, waving at our reflections, taking selfies; I even saw one woman reach out to touch it with both hands as though it had magical healing powers!
That’s what it’s like here at The Cloud Gate Sculpture. You can try to be cool about it but you will fail. Standing before this giant, bulbous mirror that wraps the entire Chicago skyline around you is hypnotic; you behave like a child.
Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining
I guess variations of our own image have always fascinated us. Warped mirrors at fair grounds, trick software on computers, and of course the big shop windows which ‘certain’ people can’t walk by without sneaking a peek! The novelty never completely wears off.
How Cloud Gates are formed – Although rings and pipe trusses were used to support the initial construction phase, the finished sculpture has no inner bracing. The Cloud Gate is made up of 168 stainless steel plates welded together, its highly polished exterior has no visible seams. It measures 33 x 66 x 42 feet (10 x 20 x 13m), and weighs 110 short tons (US) or 98 long tons (UK).
In the underside of the Cloud Gate sculpture is the omphalos, which was once described as the “spoon-like underbelly.” The omphalos is an indentation whose mirrored surface provides multiple reflections of any subject situated below it. The apex of the omphalos is 27 feet (8.2 m) above the ground.
The Bean in Chicago inspires all kinds of selfies.
The address of the Chicago Bean is: 201 E Randolph St, Chicago, IL 60601. It is open 24/7, all year round.
The Cloud Gate, Chicago, Illinois. Even from a distance, across the park, the Bean was still fascinating to photograph.
Kapoor’s Cloud Gate sculpture has affectionately been dubbed, ‘The Bean’ because of its shape. Finger and hand prints are cleaned from the lower portion of ‘The Bean’ twice a day, simply by wiping it down. Twice a year the complete sculpture is cleaned using 40 (US) gallons of liquid detergent.
Mirror panelled skyscrapers are kind of cool, but at the end of the day, it’s just the clouds or nearby buildings they reflect.
But the mirrored ‘Bean’ is a whole new kind of intriguing. Whether Anish Kapoor completely predicted the effect or not, it’s kind of genius. Standing up close to the Cloud Gate in absolutely any position and the reflected image is captivating.
We really should head off to see more of Chicago now. Ok, just another few minutes, let’s do one last walk round the Bean!
By the way, the Man in the Mirror’s answer to Oprah – “Oh, boy, I’m still learning. I mean, life is an education for me. I can’t say that I know anything for sure.”
Staying out to see The Cloud Gate that night was worth it. The illuminated Chicago nightscape gave the Bean a whole new look and plenty more fun trying to photograph.