now in its one-hundred-and-eightieth year
Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate may be the single most interesting object in all Chicago.
Kitsch at first glance, its optical and physical properties are wondrous and irresistible. Crowds are drawn to it like filings to a magnet, making the sculpture, quite literally, the top attraction in the city.
Its super-sleek funhouse surfaces and astonishing scale make it a triumph of fabrication, but few visiting “the Bean” are so dull in their senses to think of it that way. What the Bean offers above all is experience: a freakishly totalizing, ever-changing image of ourselves and the place we inhabit, unfolding differently to each who explores the novelty.
Only the staidest visitors—those who do not rush inside the Gate to gaze up at their reflections in the sculpture’s “navel”—are likely to have sufficient disinterest to appreciate the riffs Cloud Gate plays on architecture, . . .
tourism, . . .
gravity, . . .
the body. Oh, and it may disclose a truth or two about our use of cameras, too.
Cloud Gate might have offered a more serenely contemplative experience had it been sited in the nearby Lurie Garden as originally planned. As it is, the sculpture offers a more worldly, slightly silly experience of a sort Fellini would have enjoyed.