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Flamingo by Alexander Calder

Photo credit: Alan Brunettin
A bold statement, perched on the plaza of the Chicago Federal Center. Photo credit: Alan Brunettin

Alexander Calder’s Flamingo, unveiled in 1974, is an abstract sculpture that adds color and texture to the stark black backdrop of Mies van der Rohe’s Chicago Federal Center. It was part of a renaissance in public art in Chicago that started with the Picasso statue and continues today.

The 53-foot-tall steel figure weighs more than 50 tons and is considered a “stabile” as opposed to a mobile, because it is anchored to the ground.

But what does it mean? In Calder’s words, “That others grasp what I have in mind seems unessential, at least as long as they have something else in theirs.”