When the iconic Picasso sculpture was unveiled in 1967 in the Daley Center Plaza, it evoked a storm of protest in the decidedly un-hip Chicago of those times—its monumental size fit the city fine, but its abstract modernist form devoid of conventional beauty took getting used to. The phase of adjustment was documented in candid black-and-white photos by Dean Sharp who captured the responses of passersby: big bird or was it an insect or—heaven forbid—a woman? Sharp’s shots show a panoply of reactions—indifference, pure gawking, silly laughter and irritation, but, most of all, bewilderment, sometimes perplexed and often relaxed. His best images are close-ups of groups of people who display a variety of expressions, compressing a cultural litmus test into a single frame. The sculpture does not have that power any more—we have made it a mascot and modernism is everywhere in sight. (Michael Weinstein)
Through June 29 at Chicago Cultural Center, 78 East Washington, (312)744-6630.