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Mag Mile mural by artist Ignasi Monreal depicts a nine-story climb to ‘another world’

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The striking Michigan Avenue installation blends historic and modern motifs

Photo courtesy of Cushman & Wakefield

Shoppers headed to Chicago’s famous Magnificent Mile this winter will have a new reason to stop for a moment and look up thanks to a new mural from acclaimed Spanish artist Ignasi Monreal. Located at 663 N. Michigan Avenue, the thought-provoking work transforms an otherwise blank wall facing Erie Street.

“We saw the nine-story building as a unique opportunity to bring more art to the Mag Mile,” explained Jill Elia of real estate firm Meyer Bergman, which purchased the structure at 663 N. Michigan Avenue in 2015. “We’re seeing a growing trend where commercial landscapes amplify artwork and vice versa. Here everyone benefits: owners, tenants, pedestrians, and the city at large.”

Photo by Alex Kurkulis

The installation, Ignasi Monreal’s first in Chicago, gives the illusion of an elevated opening leading to an idealized depiction of nature. “The idea was to show a decontextualized landscape inspired by the images of paradise in Byzantine churches,” Monreal told Curbed Chicago. “It’s an evocative view of a greener and unspoiled place.”

Below, five painted figures ascend a ladder towards the golden portal as if to escape the surrounding urban streetscape. When asked what he hoped passersby will take away from his Mag Mile creation, Monreal simply laughed “perhaps a selfie or two.”

Considering the number of pedestrians already pausing on the sidewalk to do just that, the nine-story mural is clearly breathing fresh life into this stretch of Michigan Avenue. Chicagoans can expect the corner to become even more lively when the world’s largest Starbucks opens across the street later this year.