John Storrs was a leading American modernist sculptor in the 1920s and 1930s. Although he moved to Paris in 1911 and spent much of his career there, he grew up in Chicago and studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Ceres is a smaller version of the figure Storrs designed for the top of the Chicago Board of Trade Building. In his efforts to make the sculpture symbolic of the building’s purpose, Storrs turned to the Classical subject of Ceres, the Roman goddess of grain, alluding to the board’s activity as the world’s biggest grain exchange. He depicted Ceres holding a sheaf of wheat in one hand and a grain sample bag in the other. Storrs also synchronized his sculpture with the building’s Art Deco architecture, emphasizing the figure’s streamlined form and employing modern materials. Ceres garnered a great deal of praise; a contemporary review stated that “this work has been described by some of the nation’s leading architects as one of the finest pieces of architectural sculpture to be found in America.” Perhaps in reaction to such favorable notices, Storrs produced smaller versions of the sculpture, such as this one.
Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.
William Falloon, “Market Maker: A Sesquicentennial Look at the Chicago Board of Trade (1998), 2, cover (ill.).
Judith A. Barter, “Designing for Democracy: Modernism and Its Utopias,” Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 27, 2 (2001), 6 (ill.), 7–17, fig. 5.
Judith A. Barter et al., American Modernism at the Art Institute of CHicago, From World War I to 1955, (Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago/Yale University Press, 2009), cat. 29.
Arts Club of Chicago, Annual Exhibition by the Professional Members, Apr. 23–May 13, 1933.
Art Institute, A Century of Progress Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, June 1–Nov. 1, 1934.
Williamstown, Massachusetts, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, John Storrs and John Flannagan: Sculpture and Works on Paper, Nov. 7–Dec. 28, 1980.
Whitney Museum of American Art, John Storrs, Dec. 11, 1986–Mar. 22, 1987; Amon Carter Museum, May 2–July 5, 1987; Louisville, Spped Art Museum, Aug. 28–Nov. 1, 1987.
Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago Architecture and Design, 1923–1993: Reconfiguration of an American Metropolis, June 12–Aug. 29, 1993.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, The Human Figure in American Sculpture: A Question of Modernity, Feb. 23–May 14, 1995; Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, June 22–Sept. 10, 1995; Wichita Art Museum, Oct. 19, 1995–Jan. 7, 1996; New York, National Academy of Design, Feb. 15–May 5, 1995.
Musee d’Aert Americain Giverny, A Transatlantic Avant–Garde: American Artists in Paris, 1918–1939, Aug. 31–Nov. 30, 2003; Chicago, Terra Museum of American Art, Apr. 17–June 27, 2004, Chicago venue only.
From the artist to the Chicago Board of Trade, received by J.W. Harris, member of construction company. Frederick Durland. Robert Schoelkopf Gallery New York; sold to John N. Stern, Chicago, December 1979; given to the Art Institute of Chicago, December 1981.
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