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Agora: Headless Sculptures in Chicago

Chicago has a lot of public art displayed and one of my favorites is the Agora Headless Sculptures.

The mass of Headless Sculptures in Chicago are called Agora. Located in Grant Park, they aren't as creepy as one would think but tend to be fascinating. There’s nothing creepy about a mass of headless sculptures in Chicago that seem to be mindlessly wandering through Grant Park, said no one ever.

Creepy headless statues in Chicago's Grant Park

A Mass of Headless Sculptures in Chicago

I admit, from a distance, I found Agora, the art installation on permanent loan from the Polish Ministry of Culture, more than a little disturbing. And then I got closer and learned about the artist, Magdalena Abakanowicz, and the exhibit from my tour guide with Absolutely Chicago Segways and I left a little bit fascinated.

Agora in Grant Park

Agora, which means “gathering place in Greek” consists of 106 nine-foot tall torsos. Some seem to be walking, while others seem anchored in place.

Agora in Chicago

Each sculpture weighs eighteen hundred pounds. From a distance, they may look similar in shape but when you approach for a closer look, you’ll see these sculptures that are cast in a seamless piece of iron have different details.

a close-up look at Agora

The project took the artist and three assistants from 2004 to 2006 to complete. Private donors, including actor Robin Williams, generously donated over $700,000 to have the artwork brought from Poland and installed.

Agora art installation in Grant Park in Chicago

As you walk among the statues you’ll notice the rust-colored shadows that are appearing on the concrete around each of the sculptures 24-inch feet.

A close-up look at Agora

Abakanowicz had this to say about the sculpture, “These aren’t really people. They are shell-like negatives of the human form. Think of them as bark falling off a tree.”

Agora- shadows in rust

The artist, who grew up seeing the hatred of mankind during WWII states that her art draws on the fear of crowds which she describes as, “brainless organisms acting on command, worshiping on command and hating on command.”

walking headless torsos in Chicago

The art of Magdalena Abakanowicz can be viewed around the world. Agora is the artist’s largest permanent installation to date. The rusted bark-like figures are designed to rust and will eventually disintegrate into dust.

The feet of the Agora in Chicago's Grant Park are rusting.

You’ll find this outdoor exhibit in Grant Park in Chicago at the corner of South Michigan Avenue and East Roosevelt Drive.

Is this exhibit on your list of must-see attracctions in Chicago on your next visit?

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Kathleen Gunning

Wednesday 13th of November 2019

I have viewed this installation numerous times on trips back to Chicago. Yes, they are a little disturbing. However, I find myself compelled to visit them every time I rediscover them. They feel like marching boots/soldiers to me. I find them beautiful!

Tonya Prater

Wednesday 13th of November 2019

I think the installation is more intriguing then disturbing. It's definitely a piece that requires some thought.

Kylie n

Saturday 10th of December 2016

Wow, how unique! I love segway tours, they are my favourite way to learn about a city, interesting things like this always pop up!

Sara Broers

Friday 9th of December 2016

I just can't get into the headless sculpture stuff. It's a thing and I guess I better embrace it!

Louise Bishop

Wednesday 7th of December 2016

You're right, it was disturbing at first sight. However, the history behind it all is amazing!

Donna Janke

Tuesday 6th of December 2016

I have not seen this installation in Chicago, but Magdalena Abakanowics has a similar installation in Vancouver, British Columbia called Walking Figures which I have seen. It is fascinating. Protection Status
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