ART

DECO

CHICAGO

THE

MAKING

OF

MODERN

AMERICAN

CULTURE

October 2015

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BOOK PROSPECTUS

This lavishly illustrated, large format book will explore Chicago’s pivotal role in the development of modern American design.  With buildings like the Palmolive and Chicago Board of Trade and iconic objects like the Schwinn Aerocyle, the Sears Cold Spot refrigerator or the Sunbeam Mixmaster, Chicago played a key role in the transformation of American life and the creation of our modern middle-class consumer society.

Title Art Deco Chicago: The Making of Modern American Culture
Editor Robert Bruegmann
Executive Editor Robert Blandford
Publisher CADS
Design and production CityFiles Press
Publication date 2017

“CHICAGO WAS UNDOUBTEDLY ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CENTERS ANYWHERE FOR THE SYNTHESIS OF DESIGN TRENDS FROM ALL OVER AND THE CREATION AND MARKETING OF BUILDINGS AND OBJECTS THAT TRANSFORMED AMERICAN LIFE AND HELPED CREATED OUR MODERN MIDDLE CLASS CONSUMER SOCIETY.”

Robert Bruegmann
editor

PROSPECTUS CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

PROJECT OVERVIEW

               Purpose

               Thesis

               Audience

               Project Components: Book, Survey, Website, Programs

               History of the Project

 

THE BOOK

               Table of Contents

               Structure of the Book

               Criteria  for 100 Key Objects

 

ART DECO AND ITS ERA

              Defining Art Deco

              Chronological and Geographic Scope of the Book

              Place of Book in the Literature on Art Deco

 

PROJECT TEAM

              Project Team

              Editorial Advisory Board

              International Advisory Committee

              Researchers and Writers

 

PRELIMINARY DESIGNS

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EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The forthcoming book Art Deco Chicago: The Making of Modern American Culture is a core public education project of the Chicago Art Deco Society, a non-profit educational organization. This important new work explores Chicago’s pivotal role in the development of modern American design, which transformed American life and helped create our modern middle class consumer society. It is scheduled for publication in Spring 2017 with design and production overseen by CityFiles Press.

The book is part of a larger effort in the Chicago area to uncover and interpret architecture and design in the 20th century. Its publication is timed to complement the Chicago Art & Design Initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art and with the Chicago History Museum exhibition on Chicago modern design that will open in 2018. 

This book will break substantial new ground in the literature on Art Deco and on the history of modern design more generally. In addition to being the first book that documents the architectural, product, industrial, graphic and fashion design of a major city between the two world wars, it will present a new view of twentieth century modernism, not as the traditional story of successive avant-garde movements, but as the history of the kind of modernism encountered by the vast majority of the population.

It is intended to have broad impact across many audiences: the general public including Art Deco aficionados and those interested in early 20th century American design; scholars, curators, and collectors; and Chicago history buffs, city planners, preservation advocates, and others concerned with the conservation and interpretation of this important era of American design and the built environment. 

The book is a collective, community-based endeavor. With a broad-based local Editorial Advisory Board and a small International Advisory Board of distinguished scholars, the effort is led by Editor Robert Bruegmann, Professor Emeritus of Art History, Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago and Executive Editor Robert Blandford, Associate Professor/Coordinator of Visual Arts Management in the Business & Entrepreneurship Department at Columbia College Chicago.

It is a collaborative project drawing on the knowledge of a great many contributors from diverse fields, perspectives, and geographic areas. For over two years these distinguished scholars, emerging scholars, curators, collectors, and subject area specialists have generously given their time and expertise, working as volunteers or for modest honoraria. CityFiles Press has agreed to design the book and oversee the publication at a substantially reduced rate.

The large-format book will feature 100 key objects, arranged chronologically, beautifully illustrated, and accompanied by insightful short essays by the diverse group of over 30 contributors. Five groundbreaking essays by recognized scholars will present differing views and interpretations of the evolving study of Art Deco. In addition, brief biographies of designers and histories of companies and maps for walking tours of Chicago Art Deco buildings will be included.

From the beginning the organizers have assembled editorial board members, contributors and others to discuss the issues raised by this intensive study of design in one city.  In 2017-2018 an expanded series of related public programs and professional forums will promote public awareness and further scholarly research and of the importance of Chicago in the design of modern America in the first half of the 20th century. 

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

During the research and writing phases of the book several important, yet under-investigated areas of Chicago’s important role in the design, manufacture and dissemination of mainstream modern American culture emerged. Among these are Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Product Design, Fashion, and Advertising.

The Chicago Art Deco Society is a wholly volunteer-run education and preservation organization, providing substantial programming with no full-time paid staff, operating in a fiscally responsible, sustainable manner.

The cost of the development and production of the book is being underwritten by individual, corporate, and foundation support, so that all proceeds from book sales can be used to support ongoing public education on this critical period of modern American design, and to fund efforts to preserve important examples of this era for future generations.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

PURPOSE

The book Art Deco Chicago: The Making of Modern American Culture is a core public education project of the Chicago Art Deco Society. It will explore and celebrate Art Deco in Chicago and Chicago in the Art Deco era, demonstrating the city’s pivotal role in the development of early 20th century American design, which transformed American life and helped create our modern middle class consumer society.

The book is intended to be part of a larger effort in the Chicago area to uncover and interpret architecture and design in the first half of the twentieth century. Its publication is timed to coincide with the Chicago Art & Design Initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art and with the Chicago History Museum exhibition on Chicago modern design in 2018. Robert Bruegmann is consulting curator for the exhibition and the editorial team has been in communication with the Museum and continues to explore ways to connect these two complementary projects.

THESIS

Art Deco was a dominant mode in modern design between the two world wars and Chicago, because of its central position in the nation’s distribution network and its exceptional role as purveyor of products for everyday life, was one of the country’s most important centers for commissioning, designing and making buildings and products in this mode. This will be the most ambitious survey of Art Deco buildings and objects for any American city.

This book will break substantial new ground in the literature on Art Deco and on the history of modern design more generally. In addition to being the first book that documents the architectural, product, industrial, graphic and fashion design of a major city between the two world wars, it will present a new view of twentieth century modernism, not as the traditional story of successive avant-garde movements, but as the history of the kind of modernism encountered by the vast majority of the population.

AUDIENCE

The book is designed to have broad impact across three audiences concerned with the interpretation and conservation of this important era of American design and the built environment.

General Public: Art Deco and Design Enthusiasts, Chicago History Buffs, and Collectors

Design enthusiasts, especially those interested in Art Deco and early 20th century American design, particularly members of CADS and international Art Deco and modern design organizations. The most compelling elements of the book for this audience are the objects themselves, the quality of the images, and the accessibility of the text. For those interested in the history of Chicago the book places the story of design in the context of the historic, cultural, and economic fabric of the era. For collectors of Art Deco, moderne and other early 20th century American design the book with be a valuable resource and provide important new research and insight into the objects of the era.

There is very little really serious scholarship on Art Deco in any city. This book augments existing scholarship with new primary research and will make an important contribution to the scholarly literature on the city and Art Deco. It will provide new insights about Chicago and Art Deco generally, incorporate new research on familiar objects, and introduce quite a few objects not previously published or widely known.

During the research phase of the book several important, yet under-investigated areas of Chicago’s important role in the design, manufacture and dissemination of mainstream modern American culture emerged.

These include Landscape Architecture, Interior Design, Product Design, Fashion, and Advertising. We intend for the book for spur further  investigation into these and other areas.

Scholars and Curators

The recognition, conservation, and public awareness of this important era of design in Chicago and its impact on modern America life is a primary mission of the Chicago Art Deco Society and of the book. By demonstrating Chicago’s enormous impact through design during this era, not only on the city but on the entire country, the book will support and encourage preservation and public awareness and education of this important legacy.

AUDIENCE

City Planners, Preservation Advocates, and Public Educators

PROJECT COMPONENTS

The book is part of a larger initiative of the Chicago Art Deco Society and involves three major components, each informing the other:  

The book examines a group of approximately 100 buildings and objects that exemplify of the range of Art Deco design in the Chicago region; along with a five essays by leading scholars exploring differing aspects and approaches to the subject.​

An online platform featuring selected objects drawn from the Survey and book that encourages public participation in the further identification and  investigation of design of the era.

An inventory of Chicago Art Deco buildings and designed objects; an ongoing in-house database that provides material for the book and the website.

A series of related public programs and professional forums focused on new research in the field.

Book

Website

Survey

Programs

HISTORY OF THE PROJECT

The first idea for a publication devoted to Chicago Art Deco was launched in 2004 as a double issue of the Society’s magazine with funding by The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. In preparation for this project, the Society launched a major effort to survey Art Deco buildings and objects. In 2008 Keith Bringe was contracted to head up the Survey effort and to work on creating a publication, by this time envisioned as a substantial book.

In 2013 under the guidance of then-President of CADS, Joe Loundy, and the leadership of Editor Robert Bruegmann and Executive Editor Robert Blandford,  a working Editorial Advisory Board was convened to determine the overall direction and structure of the book.

During 2014-15 the Editorial Advisory Board was joined in a series of lively open debates by over forty experts from a variety of fields. Through this process they developed criteria and nominated the most representative examples from the Survey to create the key 100 objects that form the

core of the book.

In 2015 over thirty of the participants undertook original research on individual objects, and are currently writing final text for the entries. Concurrently the five lead essayists developed the thesis for their contributions and have met to share their work.

CityFiles Press has been actively involved in this process, ensuring that the design reflects and enhances the unique collaborative approach of this project.

Introduction
Mark Garzon, President, Chicago Art Deco Society and
Joseph Loundy, President Emeritus, Chicago Art Deco Society

Acknowledgements and Donor Recognition

100 Icons of Chicago Deco
Approximately 100 two-or four-page spreads, each with 3-6 images and a short essay

Lead Essays

        Art Deco and Chicago Design in the Period 1910–1950 
        Jonathan Mekinda, Assistant Professor, School of Art and Art History,
        University of Illinois at Chicago

        Deco-Mania: Paths to an Enthusiasm
    Neil Harris, Preston & Sterling Morton Professor Emeritus of History and Art History,
        The University of Chicago

        Design Evolution: Art Deco and the Century of Progress International Exposition
        Lisa D. Schrenk, Associate Professor of Architectural History,
        University of Arizona College of Architecture

BOOK TABLE OF CONTENTS

Lead Essays  (continued...)

        Art Deco Style: A defining conundrum
        Teri J. Edelstein, President, Teri J. Edelstein Museum Associates

        The Mainstream of Modernism
        Robert Bruegmann, Professor Emeritus of Art History, Architecture and Urban Planning
        University of Illinois at Chicago

        Chicago in the Art Deco Era:  Photo/Graphic Timeline

Extras

Brief Biographies of Designers and Histories of Companies

Bibliography

Maps for a walking tour of Art Deco buildings

Index

BOOK TABLE OF CONTENTS

Large format (tentatively 9½ by 12), heavily illustrated volume of about 360–400 pages and about an equal number of images, probably about half in color and half in black and white.

The book is designed much like an exhibition catalog, with a core of two-or four-page spreads on a series of approximately 100 representative or extraordinary objects and structures, with a series of essays reflecting a variety of approaches to and interpretations of the design of the era.

The book will be heavily illustrated, featuring newly commissioned photographs as well as images from museums and private collections. Among the images will be historic photos, both black-and-white and color, including images from some of the most important photographers of the period including individuals like Gordon Coster and firms like Hedrich-Blessing as well as never-before-published images discovered during the research for the book.

The introduction will be a short piece that sets out the goals

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK

of the book and summarizes the contents. It will place the book in the context of the mission of the Chicago Art Deco Society and within the framework of the current evolving and lively debate of the very definition of “Art Deco” today.

100 Icons of Chicago Deco, arranged in chronological order, will be presented in individual two- and four-page spreads, with images and short essays by over 30 contributors. (300 pages, chronological order Two-page spreads: 800-1000 words, 2–6 images, captions and endnotes. Four-page spreads: 1600-2000 words, 4–8 images, captions and endnotes).

Five groundbreaking lead essays by recognized scholars will present differing views and interpretations of the evolving study of Art Deco.

The Chicago in the Art Deco Era graphic essay will use images, photos, and info-graphics to dynamically represent the cultural, economic, social, political, and artistic context the era that produced this important design 

movement in Chicago (40–60 pages.  Average 10 pages, 4000 words, 20 images per essay).

Extras will present groups of objects, selected and arranged to illustrate a key theme, in a series of six 2-page spreads.

Brief biographies of designers and histories of companies, a bibliography, and maps for a walking tour of Art Deco buildings will support the primary elements of the book. A comprehensive index will provide easy assess to information in the book.

STRUCTURE OF THE BOOK

1. Value in illuminating Art Deco
Is the artifact a particularly good example of Art Deco? Is it a typical example of Art Deco? Does it illustrate some particular trends in the Art Deco style or sensibility?

 

2. Degree of connection to Chicago
For example, did the architect or designer live here? Was the manufacturer or shop based here? Was the object produced here? Is the object in the Chicago area today? Any one would justify, but multiple connections are a plus.

 

3. Aesthetic value
Is it a beautiful object? One that broke new aesthetic ground? One that is rare or typical of an entire class of objects? Is it a good example of Art Deco?

 

4. Availability of documentation
Is there enough documentary evidence to permit the writing of a good description of the history of the object and its making?

CRITERIA FOR 100 KEY OBJECTS

5. Availability of images
Can we get good photography and permissions to use?

 

6. Novelty
Has the object been extensively published? Previous exposure is not necessarily a negative, but there should be a fair number of objects in the book that most readers will not have seen. At least a few of the objects should be unexpected or quirky.

 

7. Historic value
Was the object important in the larger social, political, and economic history of the region or the nation? For example, a Western Union telephone, a Sears Coldspot refrigerator, and the Municipal (Midway) Airport terminal have regional and national significance because they represent key episodes in twentieth-century history.

8. Importance of creators
Were the creators important individuals or companies in their own right? Frank Lloyd Wright, Raymond Loewy, and the Pullman Company are important for more than just the subject matter of this book.

 

9. Degree of connection with themes of the major essays
Not every object need be directly related to the essays in the book, but objects that illustrate the issues addressed in the essays should have some priority.

 

10. Diversity
The Key 100 should include a great variety of objects including objects across the chronological range of Art Deco, from communities across the Greater Chicago area, and objects made by or associated with individuals and institutions across a range of gender, ethnic and racial groups.

CRITERIA FOR 100 KEY OBJECTS

ART DECO AND ITS ERA

For purposes of this book, we will consider Art Deco as both a style and a set of sensibilities that have in common their creators’ desire to make the designed objects of the world modern and appropriate for the machine age but without abandoning most of the central assumptions about proportion, composition, decorum, and beauty that had animated western art and design for centuries. It was a worldview that wanted to create something new but still maintain a firm relationship with established stylistic vocabularies, symbolic associations, codes of decorum, and the rationalist desire to express structure and function through an ornamental vocabulary.

Because “Art Deco” was an anachronistic term popularized in the late 1960s and has been applied to an ever greater range of objects since then, there has emerged no generally accepted definition of the term.  At one end of the spectrum there are those who would apply it narrowly, in some cases

only to luxury French items of the early 1920s and buildings and objects very closely influenced by them.

Then there are those who, somewhat more expansively, apply it to most of the products of the 1920s that have been called “zigzag” or “machine modern” and the products of the 1930s often referred to as ”streamlined moderne.” At the far end of the spectrum are those who would like to apply the term in the broadest possible way to include most of the architecture and design between the early 20th century and the mid-1950s that was considered modern at the time, not meant as literal historical revival, but at the same time not falling entirely into the realm of European avant-garde modernism.

In any of these definitions, a near copy of St. Martin's in the Fields for a church in Evanston or a faithful reproduction of a colonial house in Hinsdale would not be Art Deco. Nor would the Bauhaus complex at Weimar or Mies van der Rohe’s 860–880 Lake Shore Drive. 

Defining Art Deco

However, in the more expansive view, Art Deco could plausibly apply to the vast range of objects in between. Following the most expansive definition, it could be called the mainstream of modern design c. 1910–1950.

This book will reflect the divergent and constantly changing views on Art Deco.  In the book, most buildings and objects illustrated and described will fit comfortably within the definitions held by most reputable scholars of the period and most of the contributors to the book.  It will, however, also contain a number of objects pushing the boundaries stylistically or chronologically. For the thematic essays, authors will have the largest possible leeway in how they use the term.

ART DECO AND ITS ERA

Although the literature about Art Deco has been voluminous, it has in general not been very analytical or very rigorous in its scholarship. One segment of this literature consists of what are essentially picture books with some text extolling the virtues of Art Deco. These books have usually been based on the personal enthusiasms of the author and have tended to focus on the most decorative and photogenic buildings and objects, often at the high end of the market.

Another segment of this literature consists of books on Art Deco in specific cities. These books tend to focus almost exclusively on architecture and architectural decoration and to be quite local and narrow in focus. There has been, in recent years, some more carefully researched and analytical studies of Art Deco, not all of them using the phrase “Art Deco,” however.

Perhaps the most ambitious attempt to explore Art Deco was the catalog Art Deco, 1910–1939 issued by the Victoria and Albert Museum in conjunction with its major exhibition of 2003. There was also a catalog, 1925:  quand l’Art Déco séduit le monde, in conjunction with an exhibition at the

For purposes of the book, the period under consideration will be approximately 1910–1950 but concentrating on the period between the wars. The geographic scope will be Greater Chicago, meaning the city, its suburbs, and the industrial satellites from Gary, Indiana, through the Fox River Valley to Waukegan that are clearly part of the Chicago daily economic system.

Chronological & Geographic Scope of the Book

Place of Book in the Literature on Art Deco

Cité de l’architecture in Paris in 2013.

In addition there have appeared books like American Modern, 1925–1940: Design for a New Age by J. Stewart Johnson; American Streamlined Design: The World of Tomorrow by David A. Hanks and Anne H. Hoy; and Design, 1935–1965: What Modern Was, ed. by Martin Eidelberg, that have examined specific objects in a rigorous way and have tried to put them into a larger context.

This book will try to examine a group of objects in depth in a way similar to the second group while also trying to situate Art Deco design in a larger international context using Chicago buildings and objects as the focus.

ART DECO AND ITS ERA

PROJECT TEAM

CADS President

CADS President Emeritus 

Editor

Executive Editor

Managing Editor

Design and Production

Mark Allen G. Garzon

Joe Loundy

Robert Bruegmann

Robert Blandford

Faith Hart

CityFiles Press

 EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD

Rolf Achilles

Lara Allison

Keith Bringe

Teri Edelstein

Zurich Esposito

Neil Harris

Bennett Johnson

Vicki Matranga

Kristan McKinsey

Jonathan Mekinda

Ruth K. Meyer

Anthony Rubano

Pauline Saliga

Kathleen Murphy Skolnik

David Sokol

Patrick Steffes

Maggie Taft

School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Art Institute of Chicago

Director of CADS Survey

Teri J. Edelstein Associates

Chicago Chapter AIA

University of Chicago

Former President, Chicago Art Deco Society

International Housewares Association

Peoria Art Museum

University of Illinois at Chicago

Former Director, Taft Museum, Cincinnati

State of Illinois Historic Preservation Office

Society of Architectural Historians

Freelance writer

University of Illinois at Chicago

Forgotten Chicago

Washington University, St. Louis

Donald Albrecht

Jeffrey Miekle

Richard Guy Wilson

Ghislaine Wood

INTERNATIONAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Author and Curator, New York

American Studies, University of Texas

School of Architecture, University of Virginia

The Sainsburg Center for Visual Arts, East Anglia University and formerly of the V&A, London

RESEARCHERS & WRITERS

Gordon Addington

Rolf Achilles

Lara Alison

Julia Bachrach

Susan Benjamin

Keith Bringe

William Briska

Leslie Coburn

Sharon Darling

Teri Edelstein

Alison Fisher

Jean Guarino

Neil Harris

Virginia Heaven

Celia Hilliard

David Jameson

Jacob Kaplan

Paul Kruty

Vicki Matranga

Collector and Independent Scholar

School of the Art Institute

Art Institute of Chicago

Chicago Park District

Independent scholar

Chicago Art Deco Society Survey

Elgin Historical Society

University of Illinois at Chicago

Independent scholar

Teri J. Edelstein Associates

Art Institute of Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

University of Chicago

Columbia College Chicago

Independent Scholar

ArchiTech Gallery

Forgotten Chicago

University of Illinois at Chicago

International Housewares Association

RESEARCHERS & WRITERS

Author

Chicago Cartographics

Collector and Independent Scholar

University of Illinois at Chicago

Collector and Independent Scholar

Independent Scholar, Former director, Taft Museum

Lake Forest College

Global Landmarks Fund

Independent Scholar

Milwaukee Art Museum, formerly Art Institute  of Chicago

University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

Brookfield Zoo

Independent Scholar

University of Arizona

Roosevelt University

Forgotten Chicago

Washington University

City of Chicago Landmarks

University of Virginia

Patrick McBriarty

Dennis, McClendon

William Meehan

Jonathan Mekinda

Howard Melton

Ruth K. Meyer

Arthur Miller

Michael Vincent

Lisa Napoles

Monica Obniski

Stefan Osdene

Carla Owns

Gregory Saliola

Lisa D. Schrenk

Kathleen Murphy Skolnik

Patrick Steffes

Maggie Taft

Terry Tatum

Richard Guy Wilson

PRELIMINARY DESIGNS

2 Page Spread

PRELIMINARY DESIGNS

4 Page Spread (1 of 2)

PRELIMINARY DESIGNS

4 Page Spread (2 of 2)