Look Up! Bright Banners Spread Art in the Loop

The year of public art is turning out to be just that - new elements of the year-long celebration continue to be unveiled regularly, adding to the ongoing joy and affection many of us have for our city's second-to-none public art collection. 

Most recently, the Chicago Loop Alliance unveiled newly commissioned public art banner series on State Street in conjunction with the Year of Public Art. The commissioned series of banners pay homage to the Loop’s iconic public art, though they are in fact temporary. Eight unique banner designs feature abstracted and distilled interpretations of public artworks that span the decades (including Pablo Picasso’s unnamed sculpture in Daley Plaza (1967) and Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate (2006). Done in an arresting eight-color Modernist palette, and created by designer and artist Bob Faust, the banners will be displayed July 5–30 on State Street between Lake Street and Congress Parkway. 

Faust sought a design that allowed each unique sculpture to be recognizable, but also be part of a discreet set, arriving at a simple shape solution. Typography was reduced to its simplest elements, also to be part of the illustrative style and not compete with the illustrations themselves. Matisse’s cutouts were among the inspirations for the graphic style.

“These banners – which take familiar works and reduce them to their elements, reinforcing how ingrained public art is in our consciousness -- blur the line between art and design,” said Kate Keleman, Creative and Placemaking Manager at the Chicago Loop Alliance.” They transform the often-mundane street pole banner into an instrument that changes the experience of the street and creates an immersive design gesture.”

"Chicago's greatest public artworks make powerful memories from the feelings they invoke,” said Faust. “My goal through these minimalist graphics is to instigate a reaction that reaches back into our memory banks and pull up the original feelings made by the artworks they represent.”

To read more about the battle for public art in Chicago click here.