Tony Tasset’s Colorful Monument to 400,000 Artists Arrives in Grant Park — Jason Foumberg

Chicago Magazine, 01.12.2017

Find names of famous artists and maybe even your friends.

Chicago sculptor Tony Tasset is known for his oversize artworks—like his 30-foot eyeball in Pritzker Park a few years ago. Now one of his largest to-date is on view in Grant Park, starting with a public unveiling tomorrow at 3p.m. Artists Monument is a tribute to nearly 400,000 visual artists, their names etched in colorful acrylic panels.

At 80 feet long and 8 feet tall, the monument sits at Michigan Avenue and 9th Street. That’s 392,486 artist names, to be exact. Including Henri Matisse. And Caravaggio. Even Yoko Ono.

“It was an almost absurd attempt to place as many artist names as I could find,” recalls Tasset.

He sourced the names from websites that rank artists by their place in the art market, but he alphabetized the names “to remove the hierarchy,” Tasset says. “Artists are too aware of their pecking order in the art world.”

“I wanted it to be as unlike the Vietnam Memorial or other somber memorials of tragedies. It’s a celebration of artists and creativity.”

The panels are attached to a shipping container, so the monument can travel the world easily. (It launched from New York’s Chelsea gallery district.)

“Artists see their name and are in shock” to be included, says Tasset, of the many reactions he’s witnessed. “But it equalizes everyone.”

Did Tasset place his own name on the monument? “Oh, you betcha,” he says with a laugh.