Untitled in Chicago

Photo of Untitled in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Untitled in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Untitled in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Untitled in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Untitled in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Untitled in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz. Licensed to Artefaqs Corporation

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Untitled
Also known as:Chicago Picasso
Also known as:Tête de Femme

Daley Plaza, Chicago, Illinois, The Loop 60602
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Chicago's untitled Picasso sculpture was a gift to the city. And like the socks you got from Aunt Marge at Christmas, this one doesn't quite fit. For decades, people have cocked their heads like inquisitive little puppies trying to figure out what it is supposed to represent. To some it is a woman. To others, a cow. A bird. A lion. A symbol of evil. A symbol of hope. When the sculpture was initially unveiled, many thought it was meant to represent one of the artist's Afghan dogs. It has been featured in movies, and eventually, grudgingly, accepted as a symbol of the city.

What the Picasso is not is small. At 50 feet tall and 162 tons, it's quite a large structure, and on warm summer days unruly tourist kids run up and slide down its base, much to the chagrin of locals and art lovers.

Over the decades, millions of tourists, hundreds of artists, and dozens of movies have captured the image of this sculpture, but none unlocked its secret. Perhaps the most plausible explanation comes from a November, 2004 article in the Chicago Sun-Times. The newspaper claims it is likely a sculpture of Lydia Corbett. Born in 1934 in England, by the time she was 19, she was living in France and posing regularly for Picasso. According to the artist's grandson in his book "Picasso: The Real Family Story," the girl posed dozens of times and Picasso was fascinated by her long neck and ponytail. Later, art historians would mistake her for Brigitte Bardot in many of his works.

Quick Facts
Statistics
  • Weight: 324,000 pounds
  • Height: 50 feet. Note that there are some sources which claim the height is 58 feet. The 50 foot figure comes from the Public Building Commission of Chicago
Timeline
  • 15 August, 1967: The statue was unveiled in what was then known as Civic Center Plaza. It was the first of many public works of art to adorn the Loop district.
Notes
  • The statue is made of Cor-Ten (corrosive tensile) steel, as is the Richard J. Daley Center behind it.
  • The irony is that Pablo Picasso gave this massive work of art to the city of Chicago, even though he'd never been to the city, and never went during his lifetime.
  • Picasso was not paid for this statue. He refused to talk about any payment.
  • Picasso didn't actually create this statue. He created 42-inch-tall version of his vision, which was then executed by U.S. Steel Corporation.
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