On the occasion of Louis Sulivan's 154th birthday, we're republishing an extended post from early this summer . . .
This summer's must-see exhibition: Louis Sullivan's Idea
burning down three of his buildings. This year, we're making amends.
Looking After Louis Sullivan, featuring photographs of Sullivan's work by John Szarkowski, Aaron Siskind and Richard Nickel along with architectural fragments and drawings by Sullivan, himself. It runs through December 12th.
The main event, however, is over at the Chicago Cultural Center: the long-awaited exhibition, Louis Sullivan's Idea.
The exhibition draws on the full force of Samuelson's exhaustive scholarship - and an exceptionally rich collection of artifacts, from ornament, to elevator grills, to metal plates designed to be placed under stoves, and a sample of carbon filament lighting - to capture the passion and emotion of Sullivan's life and work.
When I checked out the exhibition early in the morning on opening day last Saturday, I turned the corner and came across Tim Samuelson, himself, sitting at the window sorting out the various captions, which were still to be hung despite the fact that he and Chris Ware had been working until 2:00 a.m. earlier that morning to finish things up. And, along with one other very lucky visitor, I got a personal tour. In the following video excerpts, improvised with my usual complete innocence of technique on my iPod, Samuelson talks a bit about Louis Sullivan's Idea.
Tim doesn't like to force ideas on anyone. He'd rather just let people discover on their own. Towards that end, he said he was almost tempted to leave the captions off the walls. By now, those captions are probably up, but you can choose to ignore them. Last Saturday, there were things still to be installed - most notably, a large-scale model of the Chicago Stock Exchange Building so, like Groucho, I'll be going back to see what develops.
I expect to be writing a lot more about Sullivan and the exhibitions, but make no mistake: Louis Sullivan's Idea is a phenomenal, not-to-be missed show. It runs through November 28th, but my advice is don't wait. It's a true Chicago epic.