Event—Public Programming

The Chicago Picasso: A Point of Departure

Chicago Picasso

Chicago Picasso

Chicago Picasso

Patricia Stratton

An idea is a point of departure and no more. As soon as you elaborate it, it becomes transformed by thought – Pablo Picasso

Listen to the audio recording of this program.

It has been a full half-century since the famous Chicago Picasso, the soaring steel sculpture designed by the century’s best-known artist, has put its iconic stamp on Chicago’s downtown. Despite the sculpture’s immediately identifiable profile and its profound identification with the city it calls home, the meaning of and story behind this magnificent piece of public art has never fully been told—until now.

Relying on personal correspondence and conversation, exclusive research, and a command of the historic and cultural contexts of the sculpture, art historian Patricia Stratton tells the story of the Chicago Picasso in a lively, informative, yet erudite style that will appeal both to historians of the twentieth century’s most important artist, and to Chicago natives and tourists alike. Some of the issues explored by the author include:

  • The identity of the woman who served as the model for the sculpture’s mysterious, oddly canine face;
  • The politics behind bringing the sculpture to the city and the unusual public/private partnership that accomplished the deed;
  • The outlandish, often puzzled reaction from the public and the political and cultural fallout in the media and public discourse;
  • The sculpture’s slow accretion of iconic status via public protests, history, and popular culture.

The Chicago Picasso: A Point of Departure, whose release is timed to coincide with the fiftieth anniversary of the sculpture’s unveiling in August 1967, serves as an accessible and fascinating guide to one of the world’s best-loved public works and a moving testament to the generosity and brilliance of the great Pablo Picasso.

Download a PDF flyer for this event to post and distribute. See Rick Kogan's Chicago Tribune article about The Chicago Picasso.

Patricia Balton Stratton was born in Cincinnati and received both her undergraduate and graduate education at Northwestern University, where her masters thesis in art history concentrated on the acquisition, construction, and iconography of the Chicago Picasso. She served as a docent and guide for a number of regional art museums, as well as a volunteer and board member of the Chicago Public School Art Society (later known as Art Resources in Teaching) that was an affiliate of the School of the Art Institute. She divides her time between Chicago and Naples, Florida. Her daughter and four grandchildren live in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

After her talk, Ms. Stratton will sign copies of the book. The Chicago Picasso will be available in the Newberry Bookstore. Your purchase helps to support the Newberry Library and this program’s featured author.

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