The Picasso Explained
When I was growing up in Chicago during the ’70s and early ’80s, there was one object whose image represented the city on most publicities. It was not the skyline or the gangster history, but the untitled Picasso statue in Richard J. Daley Plaza. Recognizable even by the Blues Brothers.
Picasso never gave an explanation as to what the sculpture is to represent. So speculation has been going on ever since. Take a look at the image to the right. What do YOU see? A baboon? A horse? A bird? Or just a totally abstract shape?
Well a few years ago someone clued me into what it is an abstraction of. Look at it from the view on the left. Do you see anything? This is most likely the angle that Picasso wanted the viewer to observe the sculpture. You can see some elements start to pop out that tell you what it is. But since the sculpture is made of the same Corten steel as the building behind it, it can get muddled.
Look at the photo on the right. Now the shadow gives a clear outline of what this is an abstraction of. The left side of the shadow is a clearly the outline of a face complete with lips, nose, and eye sockets. This is supposed to be a woman due to the long flowing hair that follows from the face over to the back of the head.
Now if you return to the second image, you can see that he included both an eye(s) and nostrils to the image. It is still more difficult to read as clearly as from the backside, but then again it is an abstraction.
Ever since learning this, I have come to appreciate the sculpture much more. Not that I no longer see it as a baboon, but because I really enjoy the abstaction in 3d. It’s really a great piece of art in one of the most active plazas downtown.