You are here

Looking after Louis Sullivan: Photographs, Drawings, and Fragments

June 12, 2010–August 29, 2010
Galleries 1–2, 24

In the 1950s, the photographers John Szarkowski, Aaron Siskind, and Richard Nickel embarked on in-depth photographic explorations of structures designed by the renowned architect Louis Sullivan, whose commercial buildings and theaters of the 1880s and early 1890s broke with historical precedents, displaying a radical, organic fusion of formal and functional elements. Attracted to Sullivan’s renegade American spirit and uncompromising values, Szarkowski, Siskind, and Nickel also found inspiration in the play of light over his ornamented facades and the dynamism of his buildings within the bustling city of Chicago. The interest of these photographers came at a critical moment, when many of Sullivan’s most important structures were being threatened with demolition in the service of urban renewal; their photographs illustrated the fragile existence of his architecture and provided new impetus for its preservation.