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Elevator Grille Ornament from Schlesinger and Mayer Store, Chicago, Illinois

A circular decoration with a central cross and radiating organic motifs composed of natural and geometric forms.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A circular decoration with a central cross and radiating organic motifs composed of natural and geometric forms.

Date:

1903/04

Artist:

Louis H. Sullivan
American, 1856-1924

About this artwork

Louis Sullivan’s vision of architecture was largely independent of historical precedent. His philosophy of architecture and ornament was based on a highly individualistic interpretation that saw the perfect building as one whose physical characteristics expressed factors unique to the building such as materials, structures, site, and function. When Sullivan applied this philosophy to the design of architectural ornament, he developed an organic style, which derived its forms from nature and geometry. This circular medallion is composed of a central cross from which four flat shields radiate, employing the sinuous geometry of his previous period as a background against which more fluid shield-shaped and organic motifs are seen.
The Schlesinger and Mayer Store was Sullivan’s last large commercial commission. The department store, known since 1904 as Carson Pirie Scott and Company, attests to Sullivan’s design virtuosity. The facade’s unbroken cellular wall, composed of plate-glass windows in neat rows, rises above two floors of ornamental cast-iron work. Surrounding the street-level windows and encrusting the entrance pavilion at the corner are design motifs derived from geometry and natural forms. Sullivan carried these motifs into the interior, which richly detailed balusters contain stylized seed forms and interlaced ribbons on a background of geometric shapes. The elevator medallion was installed at the hand height on the original cage elevators, which were removed for fire safety reasons.

Status

On View, Gallery 200

Department

Architecture and Design

Artist

Louis H. Sullivan (Architect)

Title

Elevator Grille Ornament from Schlesinger and Mayer Store, Chicago, Illinois

Place

United States (Object made in)

Date

1903–1904

Medium

Bronze plated cast iron

Dimensions

Diam. 56 cm (23 5/8 in.)

Credit Line

Purchased with funds provided by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts

Reference Number

1971.450

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/36536/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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