Tony Tasset has his EYE on Chicago

June 29th, 2010

Monumental public art is no stranger to Chicago. The Picasso in Daley Plaza is a Chicago icon. Cloud Gate and Crown Fountain draw both tourists and natives alike to the city’s playground of Millennium Park. It is safe to say Chicagoans are used to seeing large-scale artwork in their city. What they may not be used to is artwork that looks back.

A giant eyeball is under construction in Priztker Park at the corner of State Street and Van Buren. Tony Tasset, contemporary artist extraordinaire, is the latest artist to contribute his vision to Chicago’s ever-increasing public art collection. Eye, the thirty-foot tall fiberglass sculpture, is modeled after the artist’s own eye. Tasset is known for this kind of tongue-in-cheek humor in his artwork, often taking everyday objects, manipulating them, and presenting them in unusual contexts. Other examples of Tasset’s work include Snowman and Blob Monster, shown below, and a viewer can’t help but smile when confronted with their whimsy.

Though Eye is going up now, it is a project that has required several months of planning and construction time. The 15 panels that are coming together in Pritzker Park were built off-site in Sparta, Wisconsin, with a dedicated team of 7 to 11 individuals, before being shipped to the construction site. There, another team has been putting the pieces together from the ground up, with the aid of a huge crane to carefully lower each panel into place. Even with all the planning that goes into such an endeavor, accidents do happen. The truck carrying the iris to the site actually collapsed (which must have been quite a sight), delaying its installation until Monday morning.

Though all the pieces have now been put in place, Eye will not be officially unveiled until July 7th.  But the construction of Eye has become an event of its own, attracting plenty of news cameras and curious glances from passerby. Tasset himself has been on site on several occasions, watching his Eye take shape. But how will the public react to this new EYE-con? Only time will tell.

-Nicole Nelson

Nicole Nelson is a second-year graduate student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, going for her Masters in New Arts Journalism. She is currently the marketing intern at Fear No Art Chicago. When not writing or studying, she enjoys taking pictures, reading historical fiction, and finding art in unexpected places.

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