Event—Adult Education

The Chicago Picasso: Unveiling Modernism


The Chicago Picasso sculpture in Daley Plaza went from a controversial work of art to an accepted part of the city’s built environment. How does it fit within the history of modernism as well as the history of Chicago?

Picasso Sculpture, Chicago Civic Center, 1967. Postcard from the Curt Teich Postcard Collection. Production number: 7DK1147

Class Description

When mayor Richard J. Daley unveiled the sculpture popularly known as the Chicago Picasso, protesters at the dedication ceremony carried signs calling the 50-foot- tall steel construction a “colossal boo-boo.” Over 50 years later, has this once polarizing sculpture mellowed with age? Is it even worth looking closely at Picasso’s art anymore?

After studying the Chicago Picasso through its history as a civic project and its art history as part of Picasso’s body of work, we will consider how the sculpture and artist were understood in the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks and Gertrude Stein. With a further foray into how the sculpture has been cast in movies (“Bueller? Bueller?” anyone?), we will develop research projects to help us articulate our responses to this established landmark.

Carl Schmitz is an art historian. A graduate of the California Institute of the Arts, his research has taken him to art history conferences as distant as Australia and Iceland and library audiences as different as those in New Mexico and Nebraska.

Materials List


  • Instructor-Distributed Materials

First Reading:

Cost and Registration

Five sessions, $245 ($220 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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