Oct 22nd 2022

The Art of Architecture: Perspectives on Sullivan & Nickel

@ The Richard H. Driehaus Museum

40 E Erie St, Chicago, IL 60611

Opening Saturday, October 22nd, from 10AM - 6PM

On view through Wednesday, December 31st

The Richard H. Driehaus Museum announces a day-long symposium to explore important themes found in the architecture of Louis Sullivan and the photography by Richard Nickel that documented the destruction of many of Adler & Sullivan’s most important Chicago buildings. Titled The Art of Architecture: Perspectives on Sullivan & Nickel, the symposium will bring together an array of experts to share their perspectives on topics as diverse as the power of photography, the neuroscience behind ornamentation, and the role, impact, and benefits of preservation on the urban built environment. The event will be held Saturday, October 22, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. All tickets include free admission to the Museum from Friday-Sunday, October 21-23.

To see the full schedule and to reserve tickets, visit https://bit.ly/3UJJQvt

The symposium builds on many of the themes in the Museum’s current exhibition, Capturing Louis Sullivan: What Richard Nickel Saw, which focuses on photographs by Richard Nickel— best known for his role in documenting and preserving the work of the modernist architect Louis Sullivan—and which features over forty photographs as well as a selection of over twenty architectural fragments from Adler & Sullivan buildings, many of them pieces initially saved by Nickel himself.

“Richard Nickel’s relationship to the work of Louis Sullivan was complex, and challenged his work as a photographer,” said Anna Musci, Executive Director of the Driehaus Museum. “Ultimately, Nickel decided that the most effective method of documenting his city as it was becoming lost to demolition was through both photographs of buildings and the fragments he salvaged as they were being torn down. While Nickel’s photographs captured the magnificent scale and geometry of Adler & Sullivan buildings, saving Sullivan’s ornament – the art and emotional pulse of the building – was an inseparable part of his effort to record Sullivan’s legacy. Our exhibition–and the upcoming symposium–seek to explore these interconnections.”

Among the symposium speakers will be:

David Van Zanten, highlighting Sullivan’s developing use of ornamentation, culminating in his design for the Wainwright Building (St Louis, 1890-91). Van Zanten has researched and taught on American and European architecture and urbanism after 1800. His book Sullivan’s City: The Meaning of Ornament for Louis Sullivan was published in 2000.

Matt McNicholas, speaking about how ornament affects emotion and experience in the built environment. McNicholas is an architect who has created designs and ornamental details for buildings in 16 countries and on four continents. He is a member of the Society for Neuroscience and holds a Certificate in Neuroscience for Architecture from the New School of Architecture and Design.

A session on the Richard Nickel Committee, which sought to capitalize on Nickel’s work and the issues that he raised to steer a new generation of architectural preservation in Chicago, featuring: Richard Cahan, author of three books on Richard Nickel including the recent Richard Nickel: Dangerous Years: What He Saw and What He Wrote; Tim Samuelson, the director of the Chicago Architectural Preservation Archive and cultural historian for the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs; Ward Miller, Executive Director of Preservation Chicago and, from 2003 to 2011, Executive Director of the Richard Nickel Committee, and John Vinci, FAIA, an architect with extensive experience in the restoration of historic architecture, including Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange Trading Room, as well as the design of new buildings.

Also participating will be David A. Hanks, curator of the exhibition Capturing Louis Sullivan: What Richard Nickel Saw at the Driehaus Museum, and David Travis, former Curator of Photography at the Art Institute of Chicago and Adjunct Professor at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches on the history of photography. Alison Fisher, the Harold and Margot Schiff Curator of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago, will moderate one session.

About the Richard H. Driehaus Museum: https://driehausmuseum.org/about/about-the-driehaus-museum

To Purchase Tickets: https://bit.ly/3fencLr


About the Exhbhition

Richard Nickel (1928-1972) was a Polish-American architectural photographer and preservationist. Nickel first encountered the work of Louis Sullivan (1856-1924) as a student, when photographing the architect’s buildings for a project at the IIT Institute of Design. In the 1960s and 1970s, many of Sullivan’s buildings began to be demolished to make way for new development—part of the “urban renewal” movement of the period—and Nickel became an activist. He picketed buildings designated for demolition, organized protests, and wrote letters to news media and politicians in the hopes of saving them from destruction. Realizing that his efforts were futile, he embarked on a mission to meticulously document the buildings in various stages of destruction.

Today, Sullivan is well-known as an influential architect of the Chicago School, the “father of modernism,” and as a mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright. The fact that we have a comprehensive overview of Sullivan’s Chicago architecture today is largely thanks to Nickel’s tireless efforts to document Sullivan’s design philosophy and to preserve the architect’s legacy. Focusing on Adler & Sullivan’s Chicago buildings of the 1880s and early 1890s, the exhibition will explore the firm’s architecture through the lens of Nickel’s photography, which provides a detailed record of these buildings and, in particular, Sullivan’s signature ornamentation. The exhibition will highlight the integral role Nickel played in preserving Sullivan’s legacy—the photographer’s work is all that remains of many of Adler & Sullivan’s major buildings—while ultimately losing his life in an effort to salvage artifacts during a demolition.

Featuring around forty photographs as well as a selection of over a dozen architectural fragments from The Richard H. Driehaus Collection and loans from other private collectors – many initially saved by Nickel himself – Capturing Louis Sullivan: What Richard Nickel Saw will be on view at the Driehaus Museum from August 26 through February 19, 2023. The exhibition is curated by David A. Hanks.

“Capturing Louis Sullivan: What Richard Nickel Saw is the last project initiated by the late Richard H. Driehaus, who founded the Driehaus Museum and served as its board president for more than a decade before passing away unexpectedly last year,” said Anna Musci, Executive Director of the Richard H. Driehaus Museum. “Just as Richard Nickel dedicated his life to documenting and salvaging Sullivan’s architecture, Richard H. Driehaus dedicated his to preserving significant architecture and design of the past, most notably the 1883 Nickerson Mansion, a home for his beloved Chicago community to be inspired through encounters with beautiful art. Presenting this exhibition is a celebration of both Chicago’s architectural legacy and those who have gone to great lengths to ensure that its beauty and cultural heritage are preserved for future generations.”

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