Archive for the ‘outdoor sculpture’ Category




Taken from the bridge connecting the Art Institute and Millennium Park

closeThis will probably be my last post on Chicago for a while, as I want to focus a bit on South Africa next before we visit Glasgow, Scotland, in the summer.

The Gift Horse is a special exhibit at the Chicago Art Institute, up on the third floor of the Modern Art Wing out on the open air plaza linked to the Terzo Piano restaurant. We first visited this special horse exhibit in November last year, which I wrote about here.


It was really cold in Chicago at the time but we did our best to take photos out in the open air.



Weather was warm enough to take off sweaters that day

ticker tape

A good look at the ticker tape

When we were back in Chicago in April this year the weather was briefly better one of the days (snowed the other days) so we returned to see the horse again.

The horse hasn’t changed but the photographic chances were better, so I’m posting a few more pics of this special outdoor sculpture before it moves on to another venue at another institute.

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IMG_5059Over the years, we have seen a number of Animals on Parade series in different places, which I’ve written about a few times. Here’s an example.


The lovely dark blue and white horse mentioned in that article is in a garden not far IMG_5060from us in Urbana, and whenever I walk past I stop to admire it. As the owner explained, it is not part of a series, it’s just a one-off. But, it’s the same kind of fiber-glass animal done in the same sort of style and it’s great that this horse is still around for us to admire.

So, a few weeks ago I was dismayed to see that the horse was on the ground, probably blown over by really ferocious winds we’ve had recently, linked to really abnormal weather here (much colder, wetter, more windy).

The other day I walked that way again and am happy to see that the fallen horse is back on its feet.

Long may you stand horse!

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IMG_4824We Will

By sculptor Richard Hunt, 2005, welded stainless steel

As people know, I love public art of all kinds and Chicago is famous for its outdoor public art. So, whenever we are in the city I try to find a few more pieces. This sculpture is on Randolph Street, very close to the Culture Center. The form is interesting, both angular and rounded, with the suggestion of reaching up to the sky. The name is a teaser: “We Will” makes one wonder what it is we will do.

Richard Howard Hunt (born 1925) in Chicago has over 125 sculptures on display in the USA, some in Chicago. He studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and still lives and works in Chicago. He has received many awards.



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viewstatue copy

The big setting for the statue at Idiom—you can just see the statue at the far corner of the lawn


How’s that for a setting?


legOutdoor Sculpture at Idiom Restaurant, by Anton Smit (born 1954 in Boksburg, SA)

We first came across the work of Anton Smit at Idiom Winery and Restaurant, where there is a huge sculpture of a naked man, arms stretched behind him and face upturned to the sky, on the edge of the lawns in front of the restaurant. There was no plaque describing the piece, just the word “Anton 2015” engraved on the sculpture’s leg. So, it took a bit of sleuthing to track down the creator.

It’s a powerful work in its own right, but made more so by the setting: The figure on tip-toes, maybe worshipping the sun or the mountains, with a backdrop of vines and mountains; a huge figure in a grand landscape, but not dwarfed by it. If you view it from the garden by the parking area, the statue is in the foreground and, way behind, you can see across False Bay to Table Mountain.




The statue at Lourensford

Interestingly, there is a similar (?replica) statue outside the yoga studio and art shop at Lourensford Winery. Also a beautiful work but, in our opinion, the setting is not nearly as dramatic, and doesn’t set off the figure like the setting at Idiom does.

This South African sculptor is well known for his towering human figures, nudes, impressive heads, masks, hands, angels, floating and stretching figures, and warriors, as well as abstract works. Anton Smit works mostly with steel, metal, fiberglass and bronze. He tends to imbue his work with an illusion of movement or gesture, bodies curling up or limbs reaching out to the onlooker, like a call to movement. Many people say that this is why his sculptures, even the more abstract ones, seem to communicate with the viewer. Anton’s works are in public and private collections in South Africa and internationally.


At Lourensford


At Idiom

Anton works the first three months of the year in his Cape studios in the Strand (on False Bay, very close to Somerset West), and for the rest of the year in his studios at Bronkhorstspruit Dam, where he has a dedicated work force of 16 people.


At Lourensford


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“Forward” outside Madison State Capitol. Note “Wisconsin” statue on top of the Capitol dome

Earlier, I mentioned the statue “Wisconsin” on top of the dome of the Wisconsin State Capitol on Madison. Another important statue linked to the Capitol is called “Forward”.

The woman on top of the Capitol dome is named “Wisconsin”, although she’s often misidentified as “Miss Forward”. Perhaps that’s because she was placed on the Capitol dome as a symbol of the state’s motto, ‘Forward’ and to represent ‘the spirit of Wisconsin progress’.

The statue at the State Street corner of the Capitol Square is also often misidentified as “Miss Forward”, but “Forward” would be more accurate. However, actually this is a replica of the original “Forward”, which is now in the Wisconsin Historical Society’s HQ. Originally placed at the entrance of the Capitol in 1895, the original was moved to North Hamilton Street in 1916, where it stayed until 1995, when it was moved because of damage by the elements. So, a bronze replica was made and installed at the State Street entrance to the Capitol.

The 7-foot-tall original “Forward” was created by Wisconsin sculptress Jean Pond Miner. She made it for the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago, when she fulfilled a plaquecommission to create art representative of her native state. She felt that “Forward” was a symbol of devotion and progress, special qualities of Wisconsin.

Miner was born in Menasha, Wisconsin in 1865 and grew up in Madison. She graduated from Downer College in Fox Lake and continued her studies at the Art Institute of Chicago. She planned to become a portrait painter, but her classes with famous sculptor Lorado Taft convinced her to change her major. In 1893, Taft and the Janesville Ladies Afternoon Club recommended her for an artist-in-residence position at the Columbian Exposition. Hence this lovely statue.

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Entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard


Greyfriars Bobby’s grave

An unusual sight in Edinburgh, Scotland, that we made a point of finding

This is the second animal story that I mentioned in the previous post about the Hoover Dam dog.

Say Greyfriars and most people think of Greyfriars Bobby. Greyfriars Bobby (May 4, 1855-January 14, 1872) was a Skye Terrier who became known in 19thcentury Edinburgh for spending 14 years guarding the grave of his owner (who died in 1858) until he died himself on 14 January 1872. The story continues to be well known in Scotland, through several books and films, notably one by Walt Disney (“Greyfriars Bobby”, 1961) and a newer one called “The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby” (2006).

The details of parts of this story are sometimes disputed, especially whether Bobby’s master, John Gray, was a shepherd, a farmer, or a nightwatchman for the Edinburgh City Police. What is true is that John Gray was buried in Greyfriars Kirkyard (Church Yard), the Kirkyard surrounding Greyfriars Church in the old town of Edinburgh. The little dog spent the rest of his life, the next 14 years, sleeping on his master’s grave. The Lord Provost of Edinburgh, who was also the director of the Scottish SPCA, paid for Bobby’s license and collar. And many people brought food for the dog.


Greyfriars Bobby statue

What is also true is that the city buried Bobby just inside the gate of Greyfriars Kirkyard, not too far from John Gray’s grave. The little dog’s grave is now quite a tourist attraction, as is a nearby sculpture of the dog. A year after Bobby died, an English philanthropist, Lady Burdett-Coutts, was so charmed by this story that she commissioned a drinking fountain topped with a bronze statue of Bobby.  The sculptor was William Brodie. It’s at the corner of Candlemaker Row and the George IV Bridge, opposite the entrance to the kirkyard and a pub called, of course what else?, Greyfriars Bobby. It’s said that this is the most photographed statue in Scotland. We were no exception!


Greyfriars Bobby pub

The actual Greyfriars Kirkyard is also interesting. It was once the garden of a Franciscan friary, and in 1562 Queen Mary of Scots made it a cemetery for the overflow of corpses from St Giles graveyard in another part of Edinburgh. Greyfriars Kirkyard is supposedly the most haunted site in Edinburgh, in Scotland even. Some evening tours of “Haunted Edinburgh” come here, but we never did that.



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Lovely fall colors


Setting for The Bean


In spite of frigid temperatures, crowds still pose at The Bean

“The Bean” is a popular destination, no matter the weather

Frigid weather at the beginning of November wasn’t enough to keep people away from Millennium Park in Chicago and especially around the enormously popular Cloud Gate Sculpture, more commonly known as “The Bean”.

The fall colors were still very pretty but the temperature was really cold when we were there. However, we decided to go look at the Bean anyway, as did hundreds, maybe thousands of others. Just bundle up and do it!




Entering the “omphalos”

The Beanwas designed by talented Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor. It soon became one of the most popular photo ops in the city, due to its unique reflective properties. Supposedly Kapoor was inspired by liquid mercury, and the resultant surface reflects and distorts the city’s skyline. Youcan get great photos, not only of the Cloud Gateand all the amazing reflections of the city’s buildings on it, but also of the actual skyline framed beyond the sculpture.

Most visitors walk around the outside first, and then go underneath the 12-foot high arch of Cloud Gate. On the underside is the “omphalos” (Greek for “navel”), a concave chamber that warps and multiplies reflections.Kids (of all ages) enjoy the fun-house mirror effect that this creates—including me and my family. We hear amazed gasps and astonished comments, as people try to get pictures of their multiple selves. Some of the reflections are smaller or larger than you’d expect and at some angles it’s a little like playing “Where’s Waldo?” trying to find yourself or a friend.


Looking upwards


Even the little kids are fascinated

Here are a few fun photos. In the next post, I’ll talk about the Bean in more detail.

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