New York's very own "The Bean" sculpture was just unveiled downtown

Let's be clear: we're not Chicago.

Anna Rahmanan
Written by
Anna Rahmanan
Senior National News Editor
Anish Kapoor bean sculpture NYC
Photograph: Shutterstock

New York is a world-renowned, fabulous city filled with cultural and artistic pursuits that folks from other parts of the globe are constantly in awe and jealous of—so why do we keep trying to morph into some other American town?

First , there was New York Times media correspondent Michael M. Grynbaum's suggestion that parts of Manhattan have become a "Little Los Angeles" of sorts and, now, Tribeca has become the home of the New York version of "The Bean," the iconic public artwork by Anish Kapoor that all but defines the city of Chicago.

Did we really need the mirrored piece of art to be part of our local canon? Don't we already lay claim to enough important landmarks, museums and public art?

New York is where people flock to to see the Statue of Liberty, the Red Cube by Isamu Noguchi and Gustav Klimt's "Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer I," currently on display at Neue Galerie New York, after all. Not to mention: the Empire State Building, the 9/11 Memorial, Tom Fruin's KOLONIHAVEHUS by Brooklyn Bridge Park and the famous Charging Bull by Arturo di Modica.

That is all to say: it was not necessary to copy what is virtually the most recognized sight in Chicago and transplant it into our own town.

But, alas, after about five years of work, the New York version of Kapoor's "Cloud Gate" (that's the official name of the work on display in Illinois) has been unveiled in Tribeca at 56 Leonard Street, on the corner of Church Street.

The British-Indian sculptor's first permanent public work in New York, the sculpture has not officially been named yet but a naming ceremony will happen in the next few months.

The piece weighs 40 tons and is 48 feet long by 19 feet high and sits right at the base of the 60-story tower found at 56 Leonard Street, by many referred to as the "Jenga building" given the particular design reminiscent of the classic game.

"The city can feel frenetic, fast and hard, imposing architecture, concrete, noise," Kapoor said to Tribeca Citizen. "My work at 56 Leonard Street proposes a form that, though made of stainless steel, is also soft and ephemeral. 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."

That all sounds very nice and relatable, but it doesn't get to the heart of the issue, which is that New York deserves its own unique pieces of art. Consider this a call to action, artists of the world: let's get to work on some only-in-New York creations that other cities will want to make their own one day.

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