The Big Apple now has a small bean.
Artist Anish Kapoor, who designed the iconic stainless-steel Bean in Millennium Park, finished a strikingly similar sculpture in New York City earlier this week.
The artwork is wedged under the corner of the towering 56 Leonard luxury apartment building in the Tribeca neighborhood. The building’s developers spent $8 million on the sculpture, according to real estate outlet Curbed.
Fortunately, it is smaller than Chicago’s version. The original Bean, unveiled in 2004 and officially titled Cloud Gate,weighs in at 110 tons and is 66 feet long and 33 feet high. The so-far-unnamed New York sculpture reportedly comes in at just 40 tons, 48 feet long and 19 feet tall.
“There are a lot of wannabes, but nothing will beat Chicago’s,” Choose Chicago President and CEO Lynn Osmond said.
[ Does The Bean look like a butt? A cheeky new Hallmark holiday card makes it seem so. ]
The downsized duplicate does differ from the original Bean in some ways. It sits flatter on the ground and isn’t as symmetrical as Chicago’s sculpture.
Chicago’s Bean sits between Michigan Avenue and Lake Michigan, offering unobstructed views of the city’s tall buildings and the sky beyond, Osmond said. But the cramped copycat Wannabean is “shoved into the corner of the building,” she added. It might be the same object, but it is not enhanced by its surroundings in the same way Chicago’s larger version of the sculpture is, Osmond said.
“I don’t think it’s competitive. I just think it’s complementary,” she said.
“We have Cloud Gate, and they have Corner Gate,” she added later.
Sculpture strife aside, Osmond praised Kapoor as a “fabulous sculptor.” When people think of Chicago, they think of the city’s skyline or his iconic sculpture, she said.
The Bean attracts 20 million visitors to Millennium Park each year, a Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events spokesperson said. It is the No. 1 attraction in the Midwest and No. 7 in the United States, according to the spokesperson.
“It’s our postcard,” Osmond said.
The New York City bean isn’t the first to bear a noticeable resemblance to Chicago’s. Kapoor said in 2015 that he wanted to sue after a similar sculpture appeared in China.
“The Chinese authorities must act to stop this kind of infringement,” he wrote at the time.
[ Kapoor bought a $13.5 million, four-bedroom apartment inside the tower, according to Curbed. ]
Although Chicago-centric thinkers might see his new sculpture as constricted amid the packed streets of Manhattan, the sculptor has his own thoughts on what the piece offers.
“The city can feel frenetic, fast and hard, imposing architecture, concrete, noise. My work, at 56 Leonard Street, proposes a form that though made of stainless steel is also soft and ephemeral,” Kapoor said in a statement shared with The Tribeca Trib.
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“Mirrors cause us to pause, to be absorbed and pulled in a way that disrupts time, slows it down perhaps; it’s a material that creates a new kind of immaterial space.”
Kapoor bought a $13.5 million, four-bedroom apartment in the tower, according to Curbed.
The New York sculpture, which sits under a building referred to as the “Jenga tower” for its many cantilevers, took over four years to complete. The sculpture is said to have ruptured at one point because sunlight caused it to unevenly expand.
Compared with Chicago’s Bean, the new piece required “equivalent accuracy and precision, but with an added component,” the Tribeca Citizen wrote in 2018, citing the sculpture’s fabricator.
The New York version was set to be made by joining “slices” together and then smoothing the joints over, the fabricator said. The COVID-19 pandemic and its many travel and supply chain challenges surely made the work even harder.
The end product is distinct from Chicago’s version for reasons beyond its smaller stature. The building’s website cites The Art Newspaper to argue that “instead of a luxe legume,” the New York sculpture resembles “a squashed balloon.”