The Crown Fountain- Millennium Park
The Crown Fountain is a piece of public art located in Chicago's Millennium Park that opened in July 2004. It was built by Krueck and Sexton Architects and designed by Jaume Plensa, a Catalan artist. The fountain is a black granite pool with a 50 ft. glass brick tower on either end. The towers display videos of various faces that interact with park goers by squirting water out of their mouths. The water features operate from May to October.
Backstory and Context
Plensa's work, the Crown Fountain and his other public work, seeks to engage and connect with the viewer through expressing dualities in his work and challenging the viewer to engage with them intellectually. These dualities in their literal form (inside/outside, light/dark, front/back) call for the viewer to consider the metaphorical dualities within life and within ourselves. The hybrid nature of his work is heightened by combining conventional sculpture materials (glass, aluminum, bronze) with less conventional materials (water, light, video). This also heightens viewer participation as the viewer is asked to make unusual connections through the viewing of the piece.
Plensa's use of video allows the fountains to remain enjoyable and interactive even in Chicago's frigid winter months when the water is turned off. The use of the "faces" in the video element of the fountain also allow for a representation of the city's diversity.
The fountain has also been a source of controversy, even before it was built. James Wood, the president of the Art Institute of Chicago, along with several other community leaders, thought the towers would be too tall. It was even said that the size of the project was a "pissing contest" to compete with other park features.