Best Public Art in Chicago

Even though you’re unlikely to find street art in Chicago as there’s been a ban on spray paint since 1992, you will find lots of public art. Chicago is a fantastic city for art lovers, but if you’re on a budget and don’t want to pay the museum fees, you’re still in luck. There’s an entire collection of art on the streets of Chicago. Many of the statues are within The Loop and are in walking distance of one another.

  1. Flamingo by Alexander Calder. This 53-foot tall stabile is painted a bright vermilion which has become known as Calder Red and is located in the Federal Plaza.

  2. Large Interior Form by Sir Henry Moore. Located in the North Garden of The Chicago Art Institute, this sculpture doesn’t require an admission fee. The ergonomic shape of this bronze statue is reminiscent of a human form but is open for interpretation.

  3. Cube VII by David Smith. Also located in the North Garden, this statue is part of a 27 piece series that was the last completed by David Smith before his death in 1965. The sculptures range from figural to blocky and are exhibited around the world.

  4. Crown Fountain by Jaume Plensa. Located in Millennium Park, this is a must see. These small skyscrapers include projected images of the faces of Chicagoans which occasionally spew water from their mouths into the central fountain. Be sure to take off your shoes and dip your toes in to cool off during the summer.

  5. Cloud Gate by Anish Kapoor. More commonly known as “The Bean,” this wonderfully photographic statue is also located in Millennium Park. This is one of Chicago’s most famous and recognizable statues so be sure to get your goofy, distorted-reflection picture.

  6. Pritzker Pavilion by Frank Gehry. This bandshell is all curves and shine in true Gehry style. Be sure to see this architectural wonder and if you’re lucky, maybe you can even catch a show!

  7. Sounding Sculptures by Henry Bertoia. This musical sculpture is located on the plaza at the Aon Center and is reminiscent of the midwestern wheat fields as the metallic pipes shift and make music in the ever-present breeze of the windy city.

  8. Monument with Standing Beast by Jean Dubuffet. Known affectionately by Chicagoans as Snoopy in a Blender, this sculpture is a fantastic place to let kids interact with art, running through the arches and around the fiberglass sculpture in the Thompson Center.

  9. The Chicago Picasso by Picasso. This untitled cubist work by Picasso is located in The Daley Center and is well-known for being used like a jungle gym and slide by locals.

  10. The Four Seasons by Marc Chagall. This 70 foot mosaic and mural was donated to the city of Chicago in 1974 and is located near Chase Tower.

  11. Agora by Magdalena Abakanowicz. This sculpture consists of 106 headless and armless forms that are situated in Grant Park and is named Agora in reference to the urban meeting places of the ancient Greeks.

If you’re interested in reading more about Chicago or just finding a place to stay while visiting, be sure to check out my hotel recommendation on Hipmunk.