Over the next few weeks, Anish Kapoor’s “Cloud Gate” — more commonly known as “The Bean” — will be cleaned, baked, turned into coffee, anthropomorphized with googly eyes, and transformed in a whole variety of ways. At least, this is according to Facebook, where an absurd series of Bean-centric public events have emerged over the last few days in a bizarre show of community affection (or something?) for the city’s most famous work of public art.
On Halloween, for instance, hundreds of people may gather in Millennium Park to mansplain to The Bean. The day after, people will bake The Bean in a giant oven. Kapoor’s sculpture will then get re-fried on November 11, then deep-fried on November 23, when participants will finally get to eat it — but not until a crowd pours spaghetti sauce all over it, and cover The Bean with canned beans, which is an event happening on November 20.
How did we end up in this rabbit hole of Bean fantasies? It all began with the launch of an event to “Windex The Bean” on November 15, to which about 2,500 users have RSVP’ed, while over 20,000 have expressed interest in attending. And why should the public windex the Bean? As the event’s organizer simply puts it, in the page’s description, “The Bean is dirty.” This must be true: according to a poll created by WGN9 in response to the event, people are pretty adamant that the bean is in need of a good streak-free shine. Anyway, this must be a serious event because its organizers are creating official “I cleaned The Bean” T-shirts that depict The Bean next to a bottle of Windex.
Perhaps inevitably, the Windex event quickly morphed into a meme, inspiring the proliferation of outlandish Facebook events often illustrated with impressive and not-so-impressive photoshopped renditions of The Bean. Someone created an event to paint The Bean black to block the Windex effort — notably, using one of Hyperallergic’s illustrations, although it’s unspecified if the painters will use Vantablack — which provoked a counter effort to pour paint thinner over the black surface to again enable a Windex job. Other ideas include liberating The Bean by dumping it into Lake Michigan, replacing The Bean with Mr. Bean, taking The Bean apart “to see how it ticks” and — one I can personally relate to as temperatures fall in Chicago — giving The Bean a blanket “Cuz It’s TOO COLD.”
Only time will tell if any of these Bean antics will actually occur. I, for one, plan to be there on November 23, when living legend Guy Fieri is allegedly scheduled to cook the bean.
Special Edition: 🖌️Artists’ Signatures ✍️
In this special edition, we investigate what artists’ signatures actually mean, and the fascinating results reveal the multifaceted history of this curious phenomenon.
What Is a Signature in the Internet Age?
As a cryptographic unit for record-keeping, an NFT can be seen as analogous to a signature or an autograph.
The Public Theater Explores the Hurricane Katrina Diaspora in shadow/land
Written by Erika Dickerson-Despenza and directed by Candis C. Jones, this lyrical meditation on legacy, erotic fugitivity, and self-determination is on view in NYC.
The Meaning of Ancient Greek and Roman Artisan Signatures
What did a signature mean in the ancient world, and how much can we trust what they seem to tell us?
Michelangelo’s Signature and the Myth of Genius
Michelangelo served as a stellar example for future artists who sought status and economic independence.
The Rubin Museum Presents Death Is Not the End
Tibetan Buddhist and Christian works of art made across 12 centuries explore death, the afterlife, and the desire to continue to exist. On view in NYC.
Uncovering the Photographer Behind Arshile Gorky’s Most Famous Painting
As we pursue photographer Hovhannes Avedaghayan a fascinating picture begins to emerge of him and the world of which he was part.
100 Years of Artist Signatures in a Detroit Club
The beams in Detroit’s Scarab Club act as a guest book of sorts, carrying a wealth of stories and history, including signatures by Diego Rivera, Marcel Duchamp, Margaret Bourke-White, Isamu Noguchi, and others.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
The Myth of Agency Around Artists’ Signatures
In an art world built on shifting sands, artists’ signatures become symbols of agency for some, and relics of the past for others.
The Women Artists Commemorated on an NYC Sidewalk
The signatures of Rosa Bonheur, Mary Cassatt, and six other historical women artists are engraved on a small stretch of sidewalk on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Met Museum Repatriates 15 Objects to India
The sculptures were all at one point sold by the disgraced art dealer Subhash Kapoor.
Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova Placed on Russian “Wanted” List
Tolokonnikova has long been a thorn in the side of Vladimir Putin’s regime.