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Art Shaped Like Kidney Beans: A History

Love Your Bean, in West Hollywood
Love Your Bean, in West Hollywood
Photo courtesy of Eric Minh Swenson

West Hollywood just got a lot more colorful.

Three shiny, vibrant-hued, kidney-shaped sculptures from local artist Cosimo Cavallaro have been scattered like a giant jelly bean-themed Easter egg hunt across West Hollywood Park near the Pacific Design Center.

Part of the city's Art on the Outside program, the temporary Love Your Bean installation is the latest exhibit from the Montreal-born filmmaker and sculpture and runs through June. Cavallaro, who garnered headlines in 2007 for his life-sized, anatomically correct, chocolate sculpture of a naked, crucified Jesus Christ, is also known for a series of photographs showing fashion model Twiggy draped in cheese.

Sadly, unlike those projects, the West Hollywood beans -- which are having their official welcome party at 5 p.m. Thursday -- are inedible. But they are some of the latest examples of kidney-shaped art inspiration. Here are some other examples.

Elsa Peretti Tiffany & Co. jewelry
Elsa Peretti Tiffany & Co. jewelry
Photo courtesy of Josh Haskin

Since 1974, Italian designer Elsa Peretti has partnered with Tiffany & Co. on heart, starfish and yes, even bean-themed jewelry and accessories. The pieces have become so iconic that the jeweler has agreed to pay the designer (now in her 70s) $47.3 million over the next 20 years to retain the copyrights to her renderings.

Ronald Reagan Jelly Belly art display at the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield
Ronald Reagan Jelly Belly art display at the Jelly Belly Factory in Fairfield
Photo by Whitney Friedlander

Jelly Belly Art

Ronald Reagan wasn't the only jelly bean supporter. The free public tours at the Jelly Belly factory in Fairfield not only show how the candy is made -- but what you can do with it. The mural idea is popular enough to warrant a recent gallery exhibition at the Reading, Pennsylvania Public Museum.

Bean-Shaped Pillow with Peony Scroll, Northern Song dynasty (960-1127), early 12th century. Chinese. Gift of Russell Tyson.
Bean-Shaped Pillow with Peony Scroll, Northern Song dynasty (960-1127), early 12th century. Chinese. Gift of Russell Tyson.
Photo courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago

Bean-Shaped Pillow, Art Institute of Chicago

Probably not the most comfortable resting place at the end of the day, this bean-shaped pillow with a peony scroll from the Northern Song dynasty, which is temporarily off-view for a short restoration, is made of Cizhou (a type of Chinese ceramics) and stone.

Art Shaped Like Kidney Beans: A History
Photo courtesy of Super Fertile

Super Fertile Jewelry

Socially conscious jewelry designer Kali Arulpragasam (yes, singer M.I.A.'s sister) themed her brand Super Fertile's 2008 collection around world hunger, morphing beans, corn, rice and more into silver and gold breast plates and necklaces. Part of the profits went to Oxfam, a nonprofit that works to combat poverty. Super Fertile's current collection The World (pictured) takes on corruption like nuclear weapons and political instability.

Art Shaped Like Kidney Beans: A History
Photo courtesy of Patrick Pyszka

Cloud Gate, Chicago

Said to be inspired by liquid mercury and serving as a giant literal reflection of the Windy City and its people, it didn't take long for British artist Anish Kapoor's 110-ton elliptical sculpture in downtown Chicago's Millenium Park to earn the nickname -- what else -- the Bean.

See also: 5 Artsy Things to Do in L.A. This Week


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