Saturday Snapshot: Cloud Gate, Chicago, USA


NO, you’ve not taken leave of your senses.  And this isn’t a trick shot –it’s exactly as I saw it when I ventured inside the bean.

Chicago’s remarkable Cloud Gate sculpture could, until recently,  only be viewed from afar during the Covid lockdown and subsequent safety restrictions.

But I paused, quite literally, for reflection when I last visited the Windy City back in 2008 as a guest of Tina Turner and her management company.

She was opening her world tour in Chicago’s United Center and I flew in from the UK to see the gig and indulge in a spot of city sightseeing. Yes, that’s me reflected in the sculpture below, taking the shot.

Sir Anish Kapoor’s sensational sculpture is sited in Millennium Park, where it has become a tourist magnet since opening in 2006. 

Nicknamed ‘The Bean’ – the sculptor hated the name but later became fond of it – Cloud Gate is made of 168 stainless steel plates welded together and highly polished to appear seamless.

It measures 33ft by 66ft by 42ft and weighs 100 tons. That’s roughly the weight of eighteen elephants, in case you were wondering. Yes you were, weren’t you?

Cleaning it, and removing the occasional disgraceful graffiti, is a continuous task but somehow it always manages to look magnificent.

Inspired by liquid mercury, the sculpture’s surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline.

But it’s when you walk under the bean – the omphalos (Greek for “navel”), a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections – that things get seriously surreal.

The reflections seem impossible, yet there they are, with people walking every which way, even upside down. Cloud Gate is a thoroughly contemporary jewel in Chicago’s crown.

Whichever way you look at it …

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