Pritzker Garden was designed as part of the Modern Wing and opened with that building in May of 2009. Though the area is an open-air space, it has the feel of an interior courtyard, with the Modern Wing surrounding it on three sides—the Ryan Learning Center to the north, Griffin Court to the west, and the Bucksbaum Gallery for Photography to the south. The building’s iconic “flying carpet” roof overhangs half the garden, providing a shaded canopy, while its unadorned white columns give the space a gridded structure and architectural quality. Accessible from the Modern Wing’s main thoroughfare, Griffin Court, the serene space offers a perfect place for contemplation during a museum visit as well as a festive outdoor area for events taking place in Griffin Court.
White Curve (2009)
by Ellsworth Kelly
Ellsworth Kelly's White Curve was conceived specifically for the Modern Wing's Pritzker Garden. Made of painted aluminum and 54 feet in length, this monumental sculpture is the largest artwork Kelly has ever made, weighing approximately 3,000 pounds. White Curve is the only commissioned work in the Modern Wing, commissioned by then-director James Cuno in honor of his friend and predecessor James Wood, the Art Institute’s director from 1980 to 2004, who initiated the Modern Wing project.
Vater Staat (2010)
by Thomas Schütte
Thomas Schütte’s Vater Staat brings together the artist’s interest in the mechanics of power, monumental and memorial genres, and the burdens of traumatic history. This particular work—one of a series of Vater Staat pieces, each executed in differing scales and mediums—lends an imposing bronze statue an air of satire, its overlarge robes seeming to render it helpless. Schütte’s selection of painted bronze allowed him to address the historical use of the figure as a staple of public art. Here, the artist engaged monumentality in order to subvert it, turning the figure into both an homage and a mockery.
MENDED PETAL (2016)
by Yoko Ono
MENDED PETAL represents the 13th petal from artist Yoko Ono’s installation SKYLANDING, a 12-petal lotus in Chicago’s Jackson Park that rises from the ashes of the Phoenix Pavilion, a structure that was built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition. After the fair ended, the pavilion was given as a gift from Japan to the people of Chicago, but it was lost to arson in 1946. In contrast to the smooth petals that compose SKYLANDING, MENDED PETAL has visible seams of repair, symbolically commemorating the ground-healing ceremony held by the artist in June 2015, through which she prepared the site of the lost Phoenix Pavilion for her new work. Ono chose the placement of MENDED PETAL in Pritzker Garden and dedicated the work to the museum at ceremony on October 18, 2016.
Luxembourg Chair (2003)
by Frédéric Sofia
Pritzker Garden’s seating comes in the form of Luxembourg chairs, designed by Frédéric Sofia and made by the French company Fermob. Sofia drew inspiration from the SENAT chairs found throughout the famous Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris, providing an updated version of classic outdoor furniture that has been synonymous with Parisian parks since the 1920s.