Monday, January 7, 2019

"The Picasso"

6 x 6"
oil on panel

In 1963, the great Pablo Picasso was commissioned to create a public art sculpture by the architects of the Richard J. Daley Center in the loop in Chicago.  Picasso completed a maquette, or a small-scale version, featured in my new painting.  The cost of the 50-foot sculpture was $351,959 (equivalent to $2.7 million in present day) - paid for thru foundations and gifted from the artist himself to the city of Chicago.  The maquette resides in the Art Institute of Chicago, also gifted by Picasso.

The Chicago Picasso, known as The Picasso, was dedicated in 1967 by the Mayor Richard Daley ...

... and met with mixed reactions.  The famed journalist Mike Royko ripped it to shreds in his newspaper column, saying "The fact is, it has a long stupid face and looks like some giant insect that is about to eat a smaller, weaker insect.  Its eyes are like the eyes of every slum owner who made a buck off the small and weak.  And of every building inspector who took a wad from a slum owner to make it all possible."  Quintessential Mike Royko.

Mayor Daley responded, at the dedication, saying "We dedicate this celebrated work this morning with the belief that what is strange to us today will be familiar tomorrow."

And it is familiar to anyone who lives in Chicago or has visited - or has watched Ferris Bueller's Day Off or The Blues Brothers.  It's a well-known "meet me at the Picasso" spot, enjoyed by the public with a farmer's market surrounding it in the plaza and many seasonal affairs.  So there Mike Royko.

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