Anish Kapoor Has Given New York a Bean

Photography by Roy Rochlin. Image courtesy of ArtNews.

Chicago gets a lot of underserved flack as the third largest city in the United States, stuck in the flyover zone between New York and Los Angeles. Still, Chicago always had a few things those towns didn’t: independence, world class Blues musicians, trains that are enjoyable to ride, and a huge sculpture downtown otherwise known as The Bean. Tourists arrive in droves to see it during the warmer months. Once a year, high school seniors use it as a backdrop for graduation photos. Now, the artist, Anish Kapoor, has gone and given New York one too. 

The yet untitled "mini-bean" is part of a new construction in Tribeca, Jenga at 56 Leonard Street, in which Kapoor purchased his own $13.5 million apartment. The sculpture appears wedged beneath the Herzog & de Meuron building’s awning, partially obstructed to anyone but the luxury tower’s own residents. Jenga went up sans bean in 2017, but the company assured everyone that such an artwork was on its way. For over four years, residents lived above the construction site of a Kapoor costing $8-10 million.

In 2018, Tribeca Citizen published an email from the developers, Performance Structures Inc., about what was “soon to be one of the great landmark pieces of public art in New York City.” Already, construction was proving complex. The “slices” of the mini-bean had to be fit together with absolute precision, and the entire structure needed a delicate suspension system, unable to rest on a base like its predecessor in Chicago. 

Photography by Michael Young. Image courtesy of New York Yimby.

In 2020, like almost everything, construction was halted by the onset of the pandemic. Kapoor’s British construction crew weren’t able to travel internationally, and the materials got stuck mid-transit. For a while, residents were left with half a bean until the crew returned in 2021. According to Architext14 on Twitter, a user who frequents the area, the mini-bean ruptured under the heat last summer, leading construction crews, working in disjointed three month shifts, to hammer the structure back into place. “In the process, they probably made nearby residents go deaf,” the user wrote.

Last Tuesday, the untitled Bean knockoff was finally unveiled, in all its half-visible glory. A naming ceremony is set to take place next spring. New York can have it. Chicago’s Crown Fountain was always the better attraction.