Search This Blog


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Picasso Sculpture - Chicago's Civic Center Plaza

When I started writing For Every Action, I wanted to use this picture on the book's cover. Several scenes within the story, set in 1968, take place in Chicago's Civic Center plaza (since renamed Daley Plaza) at the site of Picasso's unnamed sculpture. Before subjecting myself to a possible lawsuit though, I decided to do some research, and found more information than I'd bargained for.

In 1963, architects representing the Civic Center Commission asked Picasso to design a sculpture for the plaza. Picasso completed a model in 1965 which was taken to the Art Institute of Chicago without public notice. The Commission was given a private viewing of the model and then passed a resolution to pay Picasso a sum of money for the right, title, and interest in the model. Picasso refused the money, stating it was a gift. He signed a deed in 1966, giving his model to the Art Institute of Chicago and his design for the sculpture to the people of Chicago.

It seems everyone was happy with this arrangement.

Publication campaigns were begun and press showings were conducted. No copyright notice was affixed to the model placed on public exhibition, though a notice was posted that all rights of reproduction were reserved. Press photos were published in newspapers, and later in magazines such as Holiday, Fortune, and Business Week, as well as in London's Tate Gallery.

The monumental sculpture, billed as The Chicago Picasso, was dedicated in the plaza on August 15, 1967. A booklet containing drawings and photos of the model were given to 96 guests at the ceremony. A public relations press release was sent out by the United States Steel public relations office. Later, the Art Institute sent out 40,000 annual reports with a picture of the model on the cover.

Um, right, no copyright notice on any of the photos.


1. As belated damage control, a copyright request was submitted in January of 1968.
2. Common law copyright covers the creation of any work of art until the proprietor of the copyright publishes the work.
3. If statutory protection is not obtained when common law copyright is terminated, the work falls into the public domain.
4. By the time procedures to copyright the sculpture were started, according to a subsequent court decision, Picasso's work was forever lost to the public domain.

An exception to the public domain rule is known as limited publication: communication to a select group for a limited purpose.

Notwithstanding the court's decision, I have decided to use an alternate design for my book cover. My original cover designs I am displaying here as a limited publication, to a select group for a limited purpose, and with all rights of reproduction reserved!
Cover Design after Title Change

Original Title and Cover Design

1 comment:

  1. A random thought I had this morning: Is Picasso's gift of the sculpture to the city of Chicago in any way comparable to France's gift of a statue to New York City?


Aloha and thank you for visiting today!