Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
American, born Germany, 1886-1969

Court House Studies: Interior Views Showing Steel Columns, c. 1931/38

Ink on paper, mounted on archival board
Two sheets, each 21.4 x 29.9 cm, mounted together on archival board, 48.9 x 36.2 cm
Gift of A. James Speyer, 1981.936-937

© 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn

Court House Studies: Interior Views Showing Steel Columns

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Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is widely recognized as one of the most influential figures in the development of modern architecture. Operating on a principle of “less is more,” he utilized materials such as industrial steel and plate glass in his strikingly minimal designs, which are notably free of decorative forms. As director of the German Bauhaus during the early 1930s, Mies formalized his notion of unifying form with function. In 1937 he immigrated to Chicago, where he became director of the School of Architecture at the Armour Institute of Technology (later the Illinois Institute of Technology). His legacy is still felt in the school’s program of stressing the fundamentals, materials, and function of architectural design. This Court House Study depicts a vast, open interior in which two slender columns provide the only visible means of support. The wide-angle perspective emphasizes the building’s strong horizontal character. A nearly seamless wall of glass fills living areas with light and dissolves the boundary between interior and exterior.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2013, p. 82.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architects Design, 1982, cat. no. 78.

Art Institute of Chicago, The Unknown Mies van der Rohe and His Disciples of Modernism, cat. no. 66; Art Institute of Chicago Aug. 22-Oct. 5, 1986, traveled to Germany.

Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architecture and Design: 1923-1993, June 12–Aug. 29, 1993, cat. no. 449.

Publication History

Art Institute of Chicago. 1982. Chicago Architects Design: A Century of Architectural Drawings from The Art Institute of Chicago. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago/Rizzoli, cat. no. 78, p. 105.

Art Institute of Chicago. 1986. Mies Reconsidered: His Career, Legacy, and Disciples. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago/Rizzoli, cat. no. 66, p. 125.

Zukowsky, John (ed.). 1993. Chicago Architecture and Design, 1923–1993: Reconfiguration of an American Metropolis. Exh. cat. Art Institute of Chicago/Prestel, cat. no. 449.