Benjamin (Ben) H. Weese was born in 1929 in Evanston, Illinois. Weese received his B.Arch. and his M.Arch. from Harvard and a certificate from the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Fontainebleau, France. He returned to Chicago in 1957 to work in his older brother's firm, Harry Weese Associates, specializing in urban renewal and subsidized housing projects. In the mid-1970s, Weese joined a group of fellow architects, the "Chicago Seven," to promote a wider understanding of Chicago's diverse architectural history and to advance the work of more eclectic contemporary architects. In 1977, Weese opened his own architectural firm, Weese Seegers Hickey Weese, in partnership with his wife, Cynthia. That award-winning firm, now Weese Langley Weese, is best known for non-profit and educational projects designed with a sensitivity to vernacular and historic design. Weese has had a long commitment to social service: he was a co-founder of the Chicago Architecture Foundation and also served on the board of trustees of the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1974.
Weese speaks about his early influences and exposure to architecture through his brother Harry; education at Harvard and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts; conscientious objector service in Europe; returning to work at Harry Weese Associates in Chicago; designing housing in Hyde Park and Kenwood; saving the Glessner house and establishing the Chicago Architecture Foundation; opening his own office; activities with the Chicago Seven, including the "Chicago Seven," "Exquisite Corpse," Townhouses, and "Late Entries to the Chicago Tribune" exhibitions;" and the revival of the Chicago Architectural Club.
Townhouse, "Exquisite Corpse" exhibition, Walter Kelley Gallery, Chicago, 1977.
Perspective rendering of the Evelyn Chapel, Illinois Wesleyan University, Bloomington, IL, 1982. Department of Architecture, The Art Institute of Chicago.
"Well, historically, I want to make it clear that I have come from a very intense architectural background and family setting that I benefitted from with the help of my oldest brother Harry and also the contributions of my highly-skilled middle brother John. But then, as one matures, I want to also make clear that we had a civil dissolution of our interests and a kind of branching out that is part of the maturation process. I want to underline the fact that it was perhaps inevitable, but not necessarily unconstructive. It was useful. It brings me to another relationship, which is the kind of family operation in my office, which is collaborative, where the design is a process of interaction. Design is very precious in a lot of people's eyes but there's so much that creates the situation to make it valid that we sit and we trade ideas. I may have more experience or more knowledge because of my age, which can also be a disadvantage. I wanted to say that working collaboratively with my family in a kind of cottage-industry...leaves us as the modern model of a medieval guild." (page 129)
Funding for this oral history was provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. Additional funding for the electronic presentation of this transcript was provided by a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council.
17 min 46 sec ago The Art Institute of Chicago COMING SOON—Provoke: Photography in Japan between Protest and Performance, 1960–75
The short-lived Tokyo magazine Provoke is now recognized as a major achievement in world photography of the last 50 years. A major international traveling show—which has Chicago as its only North American venue—this exhibition is the first survey of postwar Japanese art to be organized at the Art Institute and draws heavily on the the museum’s collection—more than 60% of the over 200 items on display belong to the Art Institute.
OPENING JANUARY 28—http://bit.ly/2jMlnUx
3 hours 29 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW ON VIEW—The Italian–born American artist Josef Stella revisited his native Italy in 1922, where he became fascinated by Renaissance painting. Drawing inspiration from Sandro Botticelli, Stella began to produce decorative, detailed, symbolic compositions, such as A Vision (seen here). Stella was enthralled by the tropical plants he observed at the Bronx Botanical Garden in New York, and he imagined an iconic woman growing out of the earth like the towering flowers on either side of her.
The French–born American artist Gaston Lachaise found his own iconic inspiration for the sculpture, Woman (Elevation), in Isabel Dutaud Nagle, whom he later married, telling her, “I want to create a miracle with it… as great as you.” This sculpture represents Lachaise’s first full-scale expression of the idealized female form that would come to dominate his art. Modernists like Lachaise believed preclassical art possessed a primitive vitality absent from later art forms.
See Josef Stella’s A Vision (1925/26) and Gaston Lachaise’s Woman (Elevation) (1912–15; cast 1927)—on view in Gallery 271.
23 hours 50 min ago The Art Institute of Chicago NOW OPEN—Rodney McMillian: a great society
Our latest exhibition in the Modern Wing represents the last decade of the artist’s work in video. Grappling with the complexities of class, race, and place in America, Rodney McMillian employs elements of performance, public speaking, oral history—and his interest in the science fiction genre—to expose the social and psychological consequences of economic inequality, endemic racism, and the failed promise of freedom and prosperity for all of its citizens. While McMillian's work engages the often stark realities of history and contemporary culture, it is motivated by the potential for alternative realities and future transformation.
See Rodney McMillian: a great society on view in the Modern Wing through March 26.