Chicago Loop Alliance

The city's largest public art project opened this week.

Upon seeing multimedia artist Jessica Stockholder’s new installation, “Color Jam," it isn’t difficult to detect the influence of graphic designer Saul Bass, in particular, his brilliant title sequence for Alfred Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest”. The collapse and fade from Bass’s bright green tableaux of criss-crossing lines into the gridded facade of the C.I.T. Building proves the conceptual spark for Stockholder’s “Color Jam," which covers 76,000 square feet of a downtown Chicago intersection in swaths of color.

The installation, deemed the city’s largest ever piece of public art, applies bold wedges of “three-dimensional painting” at the junction between State and Adams Streets, moving from from the street crosswalks, along the adjacent sidewalks, and up the facades of corner buildings.

According to the artist, the site’s diverse material palette–asphalt, concrete, glass, steel–is subsumed in the totalizing "potential of surface," that is, the homogenizing force of color. All distinguishing formal features, including the different profiles of each of the buildings and the logos of the corporations that inhabit them, are suspended in Stockholder’s swatches of orange, cyan, and lime green, transforming a mundane street corner into a bright landscape “spilling forth [with] imagined richness, full of emotional, subjective resonance, and wandering focus.”

All photos courtesy: Chicago Loop Alliance

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