Picasso’s first monumental sculpture in America — known simply as the Chicago Picasso — designates the plaza in front of the Chicago Civic Center as a public gathering space. The sculpture stands 50 feet tall on a base of granite, and is constructed of the same Cor-Ten steel as the building behind it.
In the 1960s, at the request of SOM Senior Partner William Hartmann, Picasso designed the site-specific sculpture to relate to the Civic Center. Hartmann envisioned the sculpture as an anchor for the center’s large granite plaza. Hartmann traveled to the artist’s home in southeastern France several times, presenting Picasso with photographs of Chicago and drawings of the projected 31-story Civic Center and adjoining plaza. Although Picasso had been sculpting for nearly 60 years, he had yet to create a large-scale civic sculpture.