Louis H. Sullivan: A System of Architectural Ornament

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Sullivan (1856-1924) forever changed American architecture with his designs for Chicago's Auditorium Building, the Wainwright Building in St. Louis, Mo., and many other public structures. Part of his pioneering effort was his unique use of architectural ornament: the ``fluent geometry'' or ``fusion of the inorganic with the organic'' that blossomed in stately, patterned curves adorning the walls of banks in Grinnell, Iowa; Owatonna, Minn.; and, perhaps most splendidly, in the Second City. This oversize volume collects 20 drawings created to accompany an essay by Sullivan, ``A System of Architectural Ornament According with a Philosophy of Man's Powers,''sic/ originally commissioned in 1922 by the Art Institute of Chicago. Reproducing the drawings to scale, along with pages from Sullivan's handwritten manuscript (facing pages translate his scrawl into type), the book also includes an essay by Weingarden, art historian at Florida State University, that explores the origins of the architect's aesthetic and its fulfillment in his designs. A magnificent testimonial to a peculiarly American mind, the volume opens our eyes not only to Sullivan's achievements but to the process that produced them. (Aug.)
Library Journal
Two years before Sullivan's death in 1924, a group of his admirers commissioned 20 plates comprising his last work, an explication of his organic, metaphysical philosophy of ornament, through the Burnham Library of the Art Institute of Chicago. The manuscript is now in the institute's Department of Architecture. It includes plates, such as one entitled ``Fluent Geometry,'' combining text with Sullivan's characteristic geometric forms and sprouting tendrils. This oversize volume contains a manuscript facsimile of the final text and preliminary drawings and notes, painstakingly reproduced in two-color half-tones; photographs of Sullivan's buildings; and a valuable, lucid essay by Weingarden (art history, Florida State Univ.) on the development of Sullivan's philosophy of ornament, his technique, and the function of his ornament in its architectural context. This exquisite volume will be an important addition to academic, art and architecture, and large public library collections.-- Christine Whittington, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780847811090
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 5/15/1990
  • Pages: 160

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