Public Art Program > Agora
S. Michigan Ave. (100 E) & E. Roosevelt Dr. (1200 S.)
Chicago, IL 60605
Located along the southwest side of Grant Park, Agora is one of Chicago’s most recent and important sculptural installations. Comprised of 106 nine-foot tall headless torsos made of cast iron, the artwork derives it name from the Greek word for meeting place. The figures are posed walking in groups in various directions or standing still. Internationally renowned artist Magdalena Abakanowicz donated the sculptural group along with the Polish Ministry of Culture, a Polish cultural foundation, and other private donors. Born into an aristocratic family just outside of Warsaw, Abakanowicz (b. 1930) was deeply affected by World War II and the forty-five years of Soviet domination that followed. In her journals, she writes that she has lived “…in times which were extraordinary by their various forms of collective hate and collective adulation. Marches and parades worshipped leaders, great and good, who soon turned out to be mass murderers. I was obsessed by the image of the crowd… I suspected that under the human skull, instincts and emotions overpower the intellect without us being aware of it.” The sculptor began creating large headless figures in the 1970s. Initially working in burlap and resin, she went on to use bronze, steel, and iron. Although Abakanowicz has frequently exhibited in museums and public spaces throughout the world— Agora is her largest permanent installation.