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System of Architectural Ornament, Plate 13, Interpenetration

A work made of graphite on strathmore paper.

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  • A work made of graphite on strathmore paper.




Louis H. Sullivan
American, 1856–1924

About this artwork

By 1922 large commissions had grown scarce for famed architect Louis H. Sullivan, as clients began to choose formal Neoclassical styles over his highly individual, organic architectural vocabulary. Nevertheless, his circle of friends—including members of the Burnham Library committee, the Cliff Dwellers Club, and the American Institute of Architects—understood the true importance of his work and raised money to commission Sullivan to produce a series of plates illustrating his philosophy of architectural ornament. Sullivan firmly believed that architecture’s capacity for emotional expression was rooted in ornament, as a locus of human intellect and creativity. Completed in the last year of his life and exhibited at the Art Institute shortly before his death in 1924, this project—with its twenty exquisitely detailed final plates—ranks among the most important statements on modern architecture ever produced.

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Architecture and Design


Louis H. Sullivan (Architect)


System of Architectural Ornament, Plate 13, Interpenetration


United States




Graphite on Strathmore paper


signed and dated at bottom center of design, "Louis H. Sullivan fecit 7/6/1922"


57.7 × 73.5 cm (22 3/4 × 29 in.)

Credit Line

Commissioned by The Art Institute of Chicago

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

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