Cloud Gate, designed by Anish Kapoor, is one of the world’s largest outdoor installations. It is made of highly polished stainless steel that reflects the activity and lights of the park and surrounding city Skyline. Kapoor was inspired by liquid mercury and the sculpture was given a formal name once fully assembled. It was created by using computer technology to cut into precise shapes 168 giant stainless steel plates, which were pieced together like a puzzle and welded shut.
Affectionately called, “The Bean” weighs 110 tons with a 12-foot-high arch provides a “gate” to the concave chamber beneath the sculpture, inviting visitors to touch its mirror-like surface and see their image reflected back from a variety of perspectives. An internal network of two massive stainless steel rings is connected by a truss that allowed the sculpture to be assembled and direct the weight to two points at the base. The stainless steel skin is attached to the internal structure with flexible connecters that allow it to expand and contract in response to the extreme weather conditions in Chicago. The sculpture’s total measurements are 33 feet high, 42 feet wide and 66 feet long. The cost of Cloud Gate was totally underwritten by private donors.
Anish Kapoor born March 12, 1954 in Bombay, India. He has been living and working in London, England since the 1970s. Cloud Gate was Kapoor’s first permanent public outdoor work in the United States.
Visit Chicago Public Library for more archival photos of Cloud Gate.