Cloud Gate in Chicago

Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
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Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation
Photo of Cloud Gate in Chicago, Illinois
Photograph © Wayne Lorentz/Artefaqs Corporation

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Cloud Gate
Also known as:The Electric Kidney Bean
Also known as:The Bean

Michigan Avenue at Randolph, Chicago, Illinois, Millennium Park 60602
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One of the most unique and interesting sculptures in decades graces the promenade at Chicago's Millennium Park. With "Cloud Gate" sculptor Anish Kapoor has created a work of art that holds something for everyone. It reflects the splendor that is the Chicago skyline. It plays tricks with the light and the sky. It is massive, giving it weight and importance. It is elegant -- balanced on its ends and without any color of its own. And finally, it is interactive, and lets the viewer become part of the art or stand back and let the simple act of walking, turning, or even just swaying change the visual presented by the sculpture. When it was unveiled in July of 2004, it was derided by some as unimaginative. Some branded it "The Electric Kidney Bean." That "bean" nickname stuck, and the public quickly changed its meaning from pejorative to loving. In the weeks following its unveiling, throngs of tourists and locals were drawn to its magical presence. Even if some television news anchors chose to dismiss it before they had even seen it in person, the public loves "the bean" and embraces it as a new symbol of Chicago.

Kapoor calls his creation "Cloud Gate" because 80 percent of its surface reflects the sky. He might as well have called it "Public Spectacle" because that's precisely what it's become, and what its viewers unwittingly become. Because of the way it bulges and looms over the viewer, people making faces in the stainless steel skin aren't having the private moment they might expect. Their gyrations are expanded, stretch, and displayed over a much greater surface area so that others can enjoy what would be merely a one-on-one experience in an ordinary carnival fun house mirror. But as has been established, this is no ordinary mirror. To some it looks like a rift in the very fabric of space and time, and its combination of simplicity and elegance have allowed it to be embraced as a quirky mascot. A walk under its nine-foot-tall arch can be a mind-bending experience.

In the years that Millennium Park was under construction all anyone could talk about was the Frank Ghery-designed Pritzker Pavilion. People talked about the signature Ghery style that would move Chicago's architectural sensibilities from the 1970's, firmly into the new millennium. Once the protective bubble surrounding "Cloud Gate" came down, people stopped talking about Ghery as the vision of the future. They talked about the acoustics of his creation. They talked about his ability to capture the feel of the city. They talked about the view he created of the orchestra. But they stopped talking about his art. Anish Kapoor clearly stole the show and in television interviews seemed mildly embarrassed by his success. His modesty is admirable. So is his bean.

Quick Facts
  • July 8, 2004: The sculpture's protective tent was removed and it was seen by the public for the first time. WGN Television reported that the artist wasn't happy about it, because the sculpture wouldn't be fully complete for two more months.
  • September 16, 2004: WGN Television reported that completion of the sculpture was delayed because of its popularity. In September, it was supposed to be covered up again and the seams welded and polished to make a single seamless reflection. But because of the huge crowds that gather around the sculpture from early in the morning until very late into the night, it was been decided to hold off on completing the project until January, 2005.
  • September 8, 2005: A bit of controversy surrounds the closing of Millenium Park for the day. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. paid the city $800,000.00 to rent the park for a private party. $300,000 was earmarked for day-to-day operating expenses. The rest for free concerts and other activities for the general public. It turned out to be just the first of many private events to take over what was supposed to be public space.
  • April 11, 2006: Crews finished buffing and polishing the seams out of the sculpture. It was finally completed and available to the public.
  • Febraury 2, 2009: The sculpture was vandalized by two people who carved "Ashley D" and "Peter S" into the gleaming surface.
  • This is Anish Kapoor's first public sculpture in the United States.
  • The sculpture was completely created in California. It was then taken apart, shipped to Chicago and reassembled.
  • Cloud Gate was originally supposed to be the centerpiece of the Lurie Gardens, but was moved to its own space because park planners feared tourists would trample the garden.
Did You Know?
  • Cloud Gate is washed twice a year in 40 gallons of Liquid Tide.

    "Chicago, the wonder city, has a new wonder."

    --Chicago Tribune, 18 July, 2004

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Cloud Gate in Chicago.  Photo by Michael Alan Bailey
Photograph courtesy of Michael Alan Bailey
Cloud Gate in Chicago.  Photo by David Metcalfe
David Metcalfe
Cloud Gate in Chicago.  Photo by john kovacich
Photo by john kovacich
Your Thoughts

There are 52 comments.

  Cloud Gates reflective surface is Kapoor's calling signal. All that one sees from a distance is a simple shape and not too difficult a shape to recognise. The build of Cloud Gate responds to the language from a mixture of sounds, image and moving images; they are absorbed from the surrounding inanimate objects, buildings, street lamps and the movement of transport vehicles of various nature. The participants contribute with the works meaning â even a person walking past having a conversation on a mobile phone will have an impact on the surface of Cloud Gate. Is it art, of course it is.

Namik Ozturk - Tuesday, October 6th, 2015 @ 4:05pm  

  Inspiring and magical. I love the sculpture and the reactions of people to it. Thank you art patrons of the world and thank you Anish and your crew. Well done !

Bill Meek - Friday, January 9th, 2015 @ 2:18pm  

  Wow. This wonderful work of art has become both a people magnet and the new icon of Chicago.

Steve Roth - Thursday, July 10th, 2014 @ 7:22am  

  Visited this marvel on 24 November 2013! it is simply breathtaking and superbly captured the Chicago skyline.

Sanath Kaluperuma - Thursday, January 2nd, 2014 @ 4:29pm  

  Right now I am looking at a photo of Michaelangelo's David. THAT is sculpture. This is construction.All you need is a blueprint, a welder, and some good sheet metal fabricators to replicate this, or create some other organically-shaped, reflective sufaced object. It can be a bean or a sphere or a pyramid. Then hire somebody with a foreign name as the "sculptor" and you can foist it upon the public as art. And even though people cluster around it, it's still not art

Marya Kozak - Tuesday, May 14th, 2013 @ 10:06am  

  I smile every time I see the Bean, always aswarm with spectators. There is probably no work of public art in Chicago which has as much interaction with its viewers (and, of course, its architectural environment).The photo section really out to include a shot of the seldom-photographed, head-swimming view upward from directly under the center of structure.

Alan Follett - Thursday, August 30th, 2012 @ 10:24am  

  just returned from Chicago and have seen the most amazing sight, the Cloud Gate, it measured any sights I saw in Alaska which is really saying something!.

judyp - Thursday, June 7th, 2012 @ 7:30am  

  Thanks to sculptor Anish Kapoor and all the craftsmen involved in making such a wonderful and marvelous "icon of Chicago" for a mankind.

B. A. Agate - Tuesday, July 19th, 2011 @ 10:21pm  

  Indeed, credit must be given to Ethan Silva and his crew for fabricating this magnificent work of art. I saw it in it's beginning stages when just the miniature 3D modeling was being done. Technology is awesome. Man's capabilities are endless and the spirit that dwells in artists is mind-boggliing. They are the true geniuses of the world.s hurst

steve h - Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011 @ 7:12pm  

  Very impressed by the way the public interact with the Bean and each other. Everybody is happy around the Bean. Beautiful creation. Kudos to the Artist and the City of Chicago. Visited in Nov.2009.

Gabriele McDowell - Monday, February 8th, 2010 @ 8:29pm  

  It is an amazing bubble! It was quite amusing to take my own picture along with skyscrapers at my back! (Visited on 24 October 2009)

R. V. Karanth - Friday, November 13th, 2009 @ 6:08am  

  I like the reflections of the city inside this sculpture. As it is known locally "The bean" has a very neat mirroring glass curve on it. This is probably one of Chicago's Iconic Sculptures. If at a certain angle looking southwest, you can see the Sears(Willis) Tower to left of the sculpture, which makes a good contrast to Sears Tower.

Brent Kampert - Friday, August 21st, 2009 @ 4:48pm  

  Even fun if you're by yourself. No need to have anyone there to take a picture of can take it of yourself! Just visited 3 days ago. It was awesome!

Meredith Ramsey - Sunday, July 12th, 2009 @ 12:13pm  

  Cloud Gate proved to me that beauty exists everywhere, it taught me how little I am comparatively to the world and yet when I stood next to "The Bean" i felt important just because i was near such exquisite art. It doubles the beauty of anything near, its a symbol of inspiration. it is magnificent

Anne Marie - Sunday, May 24th, 2009 @ 1:04pm  

  I was just showing a co-worker pictures of the Bean. My husband helped fabricate the Bean in Oakland, California's 5th Ave Marina. There were many long, labor intensive days and nights worked to create this piece. I don't think most people can fully appreciate how many men it took to fabricate each peice of steel, bending straight pieces to become curved and polishing them to a diamond finish. The true artists are the men who built the Bean in Oakland, Ca.

Beth Wolfe - Thursday, January 29th, 2009 @ 7:27pm  

  Cool, clean-cut & magical. One of the highlights of my trip to Chicago

pnina - Monday, November 3rd, 2008 @ 4:49pm  

  Simply beautiful. I just came home from my first trip to Chicago and loved Cloud Gate. It drew me in out of curiousity about this "bean" in the park and then astonished me with its beauty as I walked around and under it.

Kathy Fowler - Sunday, August 24th, 2008 @ 11:12am  

  Super cool, it makes we feel that art can match modern architecture

Super cool - Sunday, June 22nd, 2008 @ 10:32am  

  This is one of those things you remember, long after you've left Chicago. A beautiful piece of art.

David D - Friday, May 9th, 2008 @ 3:19pm  

  the Cloud Gate is simply amazing!!i really love it!!You the chicagoans are pretty lucky for having a thing like this in your city!!

Hugo Fonseca - Wednesday, January 9th, 2008 @ 12:15am  

  The good citizens of Chicago should all head down to millennium Park every Saturday morning at 10:00 with their cameras of every make and kind and snap away until the policing authorities of Chicago are sent into a donut eating frenzy.

Ralph Toynbee - Monday, November 26th, 2007 @ 8:15pm  

  I don't get it. It's a bean. And as for heroes..... No. And as a Chicagoan, I do not like being known world wide as the home of the bean. But that's just me.

Jonathan - Monday, November 5th, 2007 @ 3:11am  

  We were in Chicago this week, the first night I went out for a walk with my 6 & 4 year old boys and we found ourselves here. We loved it! My boys called it the giant jelly bean and we went back the next day to see it again because they liked it so much. It is such a fantastic interactive sculpture.

Carolyn - Friday, November 2nd, 2007 @ 6:16pm  

  Its unique. Its Beautiful. Its a messenger. The message I could read from the bean is. "I am the seed, who who want to accomodate the whole earth,who want to come closer to me and shadow the Willingness of being together and reflect the beauty in that togetherness"

Lalit Suryawanshi - Tuesday, October 9th, 2007 @ 12:39am  

  I was there for opening day and when I saw Cloudgate my jaw dropped. I immediately predicted it would become the most photographed man made object on earth (well, maybe second to the Great Wall).

Bob Segal - Tuesday, July 10th, 2007 @ 1:34pm  

  Absolutely stunning... A true experience that makes everything else in Millenium Park look almost trivial...

Robert Schnitzler - Tuesday, June 26th, 2007 @ 3:48pm  

  Cloud Gate is an amazing interactive sculpture that makes us feel like a kid again..Viewing it from every angle and inside-out, you become a part of the art work.My students said seeing it was the best part of our trip to Chicago!

Bridget - Sunday, June 3rd, 2007 @ 10:59pm  

  We visited Chicago in January just as it began to snow. Even with a coating of snow The Cloud Gate is a magnificent piece of architecture.

Lesley Susan Pearcey - Sunday, May 13th, 2007 @ 9:47am  

  At first I thought it was ridiculous and then my guy and I started interacting with it and I had SO MUCH FUN. I call it the Magic Mirror Bean and I think it is one of the coolest experiences I have EVER had with sculpture!

kelly rogan - Tuesday, April 17th, 2007 @ 9:38pm  

  what more can you asked...fantastic idea good selection of material and brave construction.

ramlan abdullah - Tuesday, April 10th, 2007 @ 12:26pm  

  exciting architecture,excellent choice Chicago!

Nikola tomevski - Tuesday, February 27th, 2007 @ 1:30pm  

  thanks ashish this is the best architecture buliding that i imagine in my life,i have many designs in my mind but not have enoujh money to go on them.

apurav jain - Saturday, February 17th, 2007 @ 2:05am  

  This sculpture is a master-stroke of a highly evolved creative mind. In 20 or 30 years it will be fully known that this is the single most important public sculpture in decades. It is a deceptively simple and multi-layered work of art. The word 'profound' does not do it justice. Go and see for yourself and just drink it all in....

brad - Saturday, February 10th, 2007 @ 2:25am  

  This is very entertaining. It's a great attraction.

Jonathan Carr - Sunday, January 21st, 2007 @ 5:35pm  

  I really had fun with Mr.Bean.From the bottom you can see many faces.

Wenyun Li - Thursday, January 11th, 2007 @ 2:17pm  

  A very nice sculptureand will attract manypeople including me!

Anannya Mary Suresh - Saturday, December 23rd, 2006 @ 8:27am  

  Who wouldnt like the bean! Its a beautiful structure!

kirby - Thursday, December 7th, 2006 @ 8:54pm  

  It does attract the visitors even though the peice of art now seems rather small in relation to its surroundings. My last couple of visits have been more enjoyable watching the people reacting to the scupture then the actual scupture itself. It makes for great photography.

Thomas Semesky - Monday, November 27th, 2006 @ 1:38pm  

  I think this is the opposite of a narcissistic sculpture as it reflects the beauty around it and is made better by those objects' reflections. It's deferential, reverent. It's also as simple as a child's smile. So happy!

gchan - Tuesday, October 31st, 2006 @ 9:48am  

  very exciting architecture, but also completely narcissistic. public art without public.

tom - Monday, October 30th, 2006 @ 4:10pm  

  You really have to experience it. It's magical. The whole park is wonderful, but Cloud Gate is the star of the show.

Samantha Brenneman - Sunday, October 22nd, 2006 @ 12:26am  

  I lived next to the shop in Oakland that fabricated the sculpture and watched in awe as this project went from idea to reality. It is absolutely an amazing technical feat. Everyone wondered if it could be done. The folks that made this things are incredible crasftsmen and artists. It goes without saying that it was a great idea to begin with.

Tony Pellegrino - Tuesday, October 17th, 2006 @ 11:40pm  

  Marvelous sculpture

shiwani bhargava - Thursday, September 21st, 2006 @ 3:28am  

  First Saturday in August 2006, sunny day, with white fluffy clouds. Everyone viewing the sculpture was smiling. It just happens! No yelling or running around, just amazement. One note: there are never pictures of the underside. It swoops up inside to form a complex image of reflections. Make time to visit Millenium Park.

KB, Maryland - Tuesday, August 8th, 2006 @ 10:02am  

  extrarodinarily engaging and totally satisfying...a thoroughly accessable work of art and whimsy.

MARTIN PALEY - Sunday, July 30th, 2006 @ 4:21pm  

  I haven't visited Chicago for a few years. The next time i do I will make a special trip just to see this fantastic sculpture.

Steven Alexander - Thursday, July 13th, 2006 @ 11:03am  

  I visited Chicago two weeks ago for a conference. Nobody mentioned Cloud Gate, however when I strolled into Millenium Park on a nice sunny day I was utterly bowled over by this fantastic piece of interactive public art. Just Great!!

Peter Jansen - Friday, May 12th, 2006 @ 11:21pm  

  Well done Chicago for making this happen. The artist and fabricators are clearly heroes!

Jeff Durber - Saturday, September 4th, 2004 @ 6:16pm