About This Artwork

Stanley Tigerman
American, born 1930

The Titanic, 1978

Photomontage on paper
Approx. 28 x 35.7 cm (11 x 14 in.)

Gift of Stanley Tigerman, 1984.802

© 1978 Stanley Tigerman

Stanley Tigerman’s conceptual collage depicts Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s iconic Crown Hall for the Illinois Institute of Technology—which houses the School of Architecture—sinking into Lake Michigan. Tigerman’s work is a critique on the state of architectural pedagogy in Chicago and its environs in the late 1970s. By this time, the Postmodern movement was becoming a viable counterpoint to Mies’s Minimalist aesthetic and was being taught at other schools of architecture in the United States.

— Permanent collection label

The groundbreaking innovations of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe left a lasting impact on both the practice and teaching of architecture in the United States, especially in Chicago. As director of the School of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, Mies stressed the importance of bold, clean designs based on structure, materials, and function. Stanley Tigerman was among the many architects schooled in the Miesian tradition, and he based much of his work in the 1960s and 1970s on the designs of the famed architect. Tigerman’s restless curiosity and iconoclastic spirit, however, led him to question the authority and durability of Mies’ program. The Titanic is a conceptual project that was meant to provoke architects to contend with the Mies legacy, challenging them to choose sides: move beyond Mies or remain cemented to the past. The photo collage pitches Mies’ Crown Hall building (1950–56), one of the architect’s most iconic and revered designs, into the deep. Tigerman mailed copies of the work to members of the architectural establishment, including an offer of a one-way ticket on the Titanic. Though the title of the work portends the end of Mies’ dominance (he died in 1969), Tigerman acknowledged that many would see the building as rising back to the surface, ever triumphant.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 85.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, "Past Forward: Architecture and Design Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago," Gallery 285, September 12, 2017–January 22,2018.

Graham Foundation, "Ceci n'est pas une reverie: The Architecture of Stanley Tigerman," January 26, 2012–May 19, 2012,

Art Institute of Chicago, "Selections from the Architecture and Design Collection," Galleries 283–286, May 16, 2009–January 2010.

Art Institute of Chicago, Masterpieces of Chicago Architecture, Apr. 2004–Sept. 2005, Gallery 24.

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, At the End of the Century: 100 Years of Architecture, Dec. 18 1999–Mar. 12, 2000. [SO D 1098 (11/18/1999)]

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architecture and Design, 1872-1922: Birth of a Metropolis, cat. no. 53; traveled to Paris, Musée d'Orsay, Oct. 2, 1987–Jan. 4, 1988; Frankfurt am Main, Deutsches Architekturmuseum, Feb. 5-Apr. 25, 1988; and Art Institute of Chicago, July 16–Sept. 5, 1988. cat. no. 343.

Publication History

Tigerman, Stanley. 1982. Versus: An American Architect's Alternatives. New York: Rizzoli, p. 27.

Zukowsky, John (ed.). 1993. Chicago Architecture and Design, 1923–1993: Reconfiguration of an American Metropolis. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago/Prestel, cat. no. 343, p. 25.

Zukowsky, John, and Martha Thorne. 2004. Masterpieces of Chicago Architecture. Art Institute of Chicago/Rizzoli, pp. 144–45.

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