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“The Picasso” of Chicago turns 50 turned into a symbol of the city

The monumental sculpture that Pablo Picasso created for Chicago celebrates 50 years in the Daley Square, now turned into an icon of a city that in 1967 received it with incomprehension and until rejection according to the chronicles of the time.

The mayor of the city, Rahm Emanuel, opened today the commemorative events in an event celebrated in the square where from the 15 of August of 1967 stands the Picasso, as it is simply known this sculpture without name of the Spanish artist (1881- 1973).

The act was a recreation of the day that the sculpture was unveiled half a century ago, headed by then-mayor Richard J. Daley, who today gives name to the square.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel (c) is taking part in an event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the monumental sculpture that Pablo Picasso created for the city today, Tuesday, August 8, 2017, in Chicago, Illinois. EFE

In an act enlivened by music, Emanuel recalled that this year is dedicated to public art and that this famous sculpture, as hated as beloved, but today part of the city, stands out above all others that adorn Chicago, a city famous for Its architecture and its art, and also by the wind.

Controversial since its inception, the sculpture has been an enigma for the inhabitants of Chicago and the thousands of tourists who come daily to Daley Square to admire it and take “selfies”.

Some think that it represents a woman, others who is a baboon. The late mayor Richard J. Daley called it “the wings of justice,” while the Chicago Tribune at that time called it “a predatory grasshopper.”

The cubist sculpture measures 50 feet tall and weighs 162 tons (146.9 metric tons), making it Pablo Picasso’s greatest work for public spaces throughout America, according to the Department of Affairs Cultural and Special Events in Chicago.

In the mid-1960s, the Mayor of Chicago contacted Picasso to commission a $ 100,000 work for the new civic center, which the Spanish artist replied did not accept orders, but he was willing to give a gift to the so-called “city sucker”.

Picasso made a 42-inch-high model, just over a meter long, and the American Bridge Company made the huge steel sculpture that presides over Daley Square in Gary, Indiana.

In the delivery document that the city preserves, Picasso wrote on August 21, 1966 that he wished both “gifts”, the model and the sculpture, “belong to the people of Chicago.”

One of the witnesses who signed the document is Picasso’s second wife, who appears only as “Jacqueline”.

The model, of which Picasso retained a twin, remains in the permanent collection of the Institute of Art of Chicago.

In a chronicle about the day the sculpture was unveiled, journalist Mike Royko wrote that when the huge tarp covered it fell, some people stared with “frowning or serious countenance” that huge structure of something they did not It was well known what it was.

Roiko described it as a “giant insect about to eat a smaller and weaker insect.”

That metallic insect is today a tourist attraction and a symbol of Chicago, a city with special ties to Picasso.

The Art Institute of Chicago was the first museum in the country to show the work of a young Spanish painter who over the years would become one of the great figures of 20th century art.

Some works by the Malaga artist were presented at an exhibition called Armory Show in 1913 and then, in the early 1920s, the Art Institute began its collection of Picassos with two figurative drawings made in 1904 and 1905.

Afterwards, a donation was made to this museum, “El viejo guitarrista,” and the collection was expanded with “Madre e hijo”, “Red armchair” and sculptures such as “Cabeza de mujer”, paper works like “Woman washing her feet” and Precious “frugal food” from the blue period.

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