Aubrey Beardsley

Aubrey Beardsley was born on August 21, 1872, into a family that started out rich, but lost their fortune. The consequence of this was that his mother pushed him and his sister, Mabel, to acquire skills in the arts in order to seem more refined, and to bring in money. As a young boy, Beardsley performed piano recitals with his sister. Eventually, they were both sent to live with their great-aunt, as finances were very tight. Here, Beardsley would walk a few miles to a church near his aunt’s house, which had a beautiful stained glass window in a pre-Raphaelite style. Here he gained some early expose to this genre of art, whose influence would permeate his career.

The Black Cape

Beardsley moved to London with his family, where he began working at an insurance company. Like many creatives, he spend his free evenings drawing. A family friend, Alfred Gurney, gave him some of his first commissions, as well as access to his private art collection, where he was able to view even more pre-Raphaelite art.

La Dame aux Camélias, pen-and-ink drawing by Aubrey Beardsley for The Yellow Book, vol. 3, published October 1894. The drawing was inspired by the book of the same name by Alexandre Dumas fils.
La Dame aux Camélias, created for The Yellow Book

Inspired by the artist Edward Burne-Jones who lived nearby to Beardsley, he made the brave decision to go visit his home and studio, unannounced. When Beardsley and his sister arrived at the front door, they were turned away by a maid. But Burne-Jones graciously invited them in and agreed to have a look at Beardsley’s portfolio. Usually a harsh and honest critic, Burne-Jones praised Beardsley’s work saying, “I seldom or never advise anyone to take up art as a profession, but in your case I can do nothing else.”

After this turning point, Beardsley began attending the Westminster School of Art, where he would eventually teach. He gained his first major commission to illustrate Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte Darthur in 1893. In order to complete the work he quit his job and began work full time on the illustrations. He would eventually complete over 300 illustrations for this project, developing his signature black ink style along the way. After the publication, Beardsley became one of the most famous illustrators in England.


Another key point in Beardsley’s career was his friendship and collaboration with the famous writer Oscar Wilde. Wilde took an instant liking to Beardsley, who was fifteen years his junior, and even claimed that he “created” Beardsley. Beardsley began working on illustrations for Wilde’s play, Salome. At the same time, he was the art editor and illustrator for a controversial magazine called The Yellow Book. A huge scandal surrounding Wilde’s homosexuality would result in Beardsley’s dismissal from his editor position.

During his career and years of fame, Beardsley enjoyed the high life. His personality was as well known as his artwork. He was perfectly well dressed, and retained a boyishly youthful look.

A personal favorite of mine. Doesn’t this remind you of magazine covers that would only come years later?

Beardsley’s art was unique in its simplicity and simultaneous intricacy. He used pencil to sketch out his designs, then went over them in smooth lines of black ink. Inspired by both pre-Raphaelite art and Japanese woodblock prints, his work would inspire many illustrators after him, as well as begin the Art Nouveau period in art. His work had high contrast, suspense, and motion. One of my favorite aspects of Beardsley’s work is his use of negative space, and flowing, natural lines. He loved sinister and sensual themes, and often created work that was erotic and startled people. Beardsley said of his own work, “I have one aim – the grotesque. If I am not grotesque I am nothing.”

His health weak throughout his life, Beardsley suffered a particularly bad hemorrhage. He was admitted to the Roman Catholic church as his health rapidly declined. On his deathbed, he begged for his erotic drawings, especially in the book Lysistrata, to be destroyed. He died at the young age of 25. What’s most amazing about Aubrey Beardsley, is that in only six years, he was able to change illustration as we know it.


Survey 10: Nazis and Art Domination

For my fourth and final spread, I worked alongside Elizabeth to create a design for the Art and Color category. For this spread, we were working with the information from Survey 10. We were intrigued by how art was used in the Nazi regime, so we decided to focus on the contrast between Nazi sanctioned “Third Reich Art” and hated “Degenerate Art.”

In order to depict the stark difference in the way Nazis viewed these two different categories of art, we decided to make each side of the spread look like a wall in an art gallery, with the corner in the middle. The divide between the two helps to emphasize how different they were.

On my side, I painted a wall of the Great Exhibition of German Art. I used light colors to highlight the classical nature of Third Reich Art, and chose two sculptures and a painting that embody much of Nazi art in my opinion. Elizabeth and I decided to both use gouache, so that our sides would have continuity in style. We came up with the title “Nazis and Art Domination” that travels across the top of both sides of the spread. The way the page split works, the title works individually on each side as well as together. I think this was a really cool way to sum up what happened to art in World War II Germany. To highlight the title even further, I used an typically Nazi Fraktur font for my side, while Elizabeth used a modern font that would have been seen in the Degenerate art exhibit.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this spread turned out. Elizabeth had a lot of amazing ideas, and I think we did a really good job of collaborating to create a spread that feels cohesive on both sides. I’d give us a 9/10.

Cindy Sherman

Cindy Sherman was born in 1954 in New Jersey. As the youngest of 5 children, she grew up with a desire to please people. She loved playing dress up, and collecting clothes from thrift stores. It must have been these early years where she developed a love for altering the way she was viewed by other people.

In college, Sherman failed her first photography class. But painting, at that time, was “men’s medium” and she wanted to claim her own space. She began documenting her getting ready process before going out at night which led her to her first series of photographs.

“Untitled Film Stills,” which brought Sherman into the limelight, was a series of 69 black and white images. She poses as 69 different character for the photos, each unnamed, but each with an intriguing story behind them.


Untitled #374, 1976

Untitled #369, 1976

From this project, Sherman’s career took off. She kept creating, posing for her own photos. In her work, she took on a multitude of roles as she would do makeup, prosthetics, costuming, wigs, prop staging, photography, and modelling – every possible role, for every photo.

Untitled #403

Since Sherman’s work involves her putting on different costumes and make up, much of it is concerned with identity. Her photos aren’t really of her, they’re of other people that she’s portraying. Sherman’s work confronts the way that TV, movies, the internet, and other new media forms have caused us to view other people. She often deals with different extremes – beautiful and ugly, real and artificial, fiction and reality. Gender identity also plays into much of her work, and much of it challenges the way so much art has been created from a male perspective.

Untitled #225

Sherman’s photography is striking and enticing. I find myself both disturbed by it and unable to look away. What’s most remarkable, to me, is her ability to completely embody the characteristics of the people in her photos. She must have some amazing acting abilities to portray so many different people so well. By using photography instead of painting, she is able to force people to think in a new way about the images they’re seeing. Sherman makes us confront the reality of much of our art, and think twice about how we view people. Her photos feel more “real” than paintings, and the characters she take on seem to have endless stories to tell.

Untitled Film Still #54

“I am trying to make other people recognize something of themselves rather than me.” — Cindy Sherman

David Hockney

David Hockney at home in London
David Hockney at home in London

David Hockney in 1966
This man is a legend, just look at those glasses

David Hockney was born on July 9, 1937, in Bradford, West Yorkshire. At only 11 years he knew he wanted to be an artist. Hockney would watch father repainted old bicycles, and cites this as an early influence on his attraction to art. In 1952, Hockney enrolled in Bradford School of Art, where he gained an impressive foundation in observational and figure drawing. However, the school was very concerned with traditional methods and practices, which frustrated Hockney. In 1957, Hockney sold his very first piece, “A Portrait of my Father,” at the Yorkshire Artists Exhibition.

We Two Boys Together Clinging (1961)

For the next two years, Hockney served his mandatory national service, where he worked in two different hospitals. During this time, he didn’t paint at all, but was influences by the work of Alan Davies and Jackson Pollock.

After his service, Hockney’s education continued at the Royal College of Art. Here, he was a star student. He formed a close friendship with fellow student R.B. Kitaj, who bought drawings from him. He was deeply inspired by a visit to the Tate Gallery where he viewed a Pablo Picasso exhibit. Hockney experimented with abstract expressionism and more modern forms of art but felt that they were “too barren.” At the end of his studies at the Royal College, Hockney refused to write the final required essay, so the school changed their regulations so that he could graduate.

Moving away from more modern art styles, Hockney began to definedIn 1962, a visit to California inspired Hockney’s iconic pool series and an eventual home there where he would live part of the year. He began working more and more with color, moving towards a style more closely tied to pop art (a term he didn’t associate with).

Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) (1972)

David Hockney's My Parents
My Parents (1977)

At 81 years old, Hockney is almost completely deaf, but still as lively and prolific as ever. Over his career, he has put out an amazing breadth of work including painting, photography, drawing, stage design, and digital painting. And his pieces are popular too, consistently selling at record breaking prices. Why do people love his work so much? Perhaps it’s the happy, sunlit colors or the pleasing compositions. Some people feel that art that makes you happy isn’t as real as art that makes you uncomfortable or angry. But Hockney’s work is an enduring example against that reasoning. I love it because of its continuity. With decades of work behind him, all of Hockney’s works hanging side by side feel connected. His pieces have a comfortable stillness within them, a strange sterility that manages not to lack feeling and possibility.

David Hockney's Studio Interior #2, 2014
David Hockney’s Studio Interior #2 (2014)

Much of this is probably due to Hockney’s personality. More than any other artist, living or dead, Hockney has swagger. In his youth he partied hard with his fellow artists, but worked even harder. He still smokes weed, and dresses like the classy man he is. His battalion of assistants, friends, and lovers attend to him in his studio and at home. Best of all is his openness with his homosexuality, even in his early years when it hadn’t been decriminalized.

David Hockney, to me, can be summed up in his own words, “Just because you are cheeky, doesn’t mean you are not serious.”

I love this man.

David Hockney, ‘A Bigger Splash’ 1967
A Bigger Splash (1967)



Survey 10: In Which, Designers Find Themselves in America, Pursued by Nazis


The 1930’s and 40’s were a wild time for artists and designers, and I mean w  i  l  d. Not only was the Great Depression hitting the entire world, hard, but World War II began soon after. nearly 3 straight decades of worldwide turmoil led to some amazing new technologies and opportunities for design to improve, however. As part of Roosevelt’s New Deal, jobs were created for designers and photographers to create travel posters and capture the images of the times. Raymond Loewy, the “father of industrial design” (and the father of streamlining – can someone find the full family tree, please?) helped create simple, functional, and appealing objects. Two world fairs helped to push new inventions and innovations in design into public view.

During World War II, many European designers fled to the United States to escape the Nazi regime. This resulted in a shift of the art centre of the world from Paris to New York City, and helped to modernize art and design in America (a much needed change).


“Divine destiny has given the German people everything in the person of one man. Not only does he possess strong and ingenious statesmanship, not only is he ingenious as a soldier, not only is he the first worker and the first economist among his people but, and this is perhaps his greatest strength, he is an artist. He came from art, he devoted himself to art, especially the art of architecture, this powerful creator of great buildings. And now he has also become the Reich’s builder.”

–Hakenkreuzbanner (The Swastika Flag), June 10, 1938

The Third Reich aimed to control and manipulate every are of its citizen’s lives. Part of the reason why it was so successful in its control was because it utilized many different tactics to target people. Hitler’s plan to create a “synchronization of culture” was made to present a unified Germany, tied together by its shared Aryan culture. To him, art was another method of control, just like propaganda or the military. As an art school reject himself, Hitler wanted to be viewed as a passionate man who understood and valued art.

A painting of waterlilies by Third Reich approved artist Ludwig Dettmann

But exactly how was Third Reich art classified? Finding a definitive answer to that question can be difficult, since it was based on a complex set of ideals created mainly by Hitler himself and his trusted leaders. For the most part, it was any art that well exemplified Nazi ideals. Anything else was considered degenerate art. Hitler hated modernist and expressionist art, and anything he deemed “not serious” enough to promote his ideas. What was not considered degenerate was usually quite boring and classically academic. Third Reich art promoted power, strength, triumph, and optimism. It often portrayed young, beautiful men and women.

“I will not tolerate unfinished paintings!”- Adolf HItler


Hitler handpicked some artists whose work epitomized Third Reich ideas. Josef Thorak and Arno Breker were two such artists. Their work celebrated ideal beauty and power. Interestingly, Breker had artwork that was branded as degenerate early in his career, yet was still highly favoured by Hitler himself.

Hitler’s ideas about art were accepted by his followers and close advisors, but it’s interesting to look at what three of these men thought of art before they came into close contact with him. Joseph Goebbels collected modern art, which he displayed in his home and office, and like degenerate art pieces. Heinrich Himmler liked mystical tribal German art and Alfred Rosenberg liked romantic art portraying rural life, both of which didn’t fit Hitler’s guidelines. Goebbels and Rosenberg would fully support Third Reich art and denounce degenerate art. Himmler, however, secretly stole valuable (yet condemned) works of art from Hitler throughout the war.

The Great Exhibition of German Art

 Hitler had big plans for art in the Third Reich. His "Great German Art...
A room inside the Great Exhibition of German Art.

The Great Exhibition of German Art

The Great Exhibition of German Art was held in Munich in the summer of 1937, and presented a large collection of Third Reich approved art. The exhibition featured sculptures from Breker, as well as plenty of beautiful, muscular bodies and wild animals. Only a few steps away, across the street, was the Entartete Kunst (Degenerate Art) exhibit, created to mock and degrade degenerate art and artists. Unsurprisingly, the degenerate art drew far more visitors. In the long run, degenerate art would have a much stronger impact than the Third Reich art ever did, since it was progressive, powerful, and modern. Thankfully, our ideas of art are no longer restricted like they were in World War II.

View of sculpture exhibited at the Haus of German Art, n.d.
A crowd of people viewing sculptures at the Exhibition of German Art.


Franz Kline

Franz Kline was born on May 23, 1910. Interested in art from an early age, he studied drawing at Boston University from 1931 to 1935. He continued his studies at the Heatherley School of Art in London. His education provided him with a strong understanding of line that would prove vital in the progression of his work.

After finishing his studies, Kline was working in New York City in the late 1930’s. His art then was a combination of cubism and social realism, depicting objects like chairs in a realistic manner. One day, his friend was showing him his new projector. Kline’s friend projected an enlargement of a small sketch that Kline had drawn in a phone book. When Kline saw the projection, the drawing was so blown up that all that remained was abstract lines and shapes in black and white. From this moment, Kline realized the potential in these abstractions, and turned to abstract expressionism as a new way forward in his art.

Painting Number 2, 1954

Abstract expressionism as a movement was marked by a spontaneous expression of the artists psychic state at the time. Artists were generally dissatisfied with the European tradition of art, and worked to escape its confines. Kline worked on huge canvasses on his floor, forcing himself to work outside of the “normal” restrictions. Using large brushes, he put his whole body into his brushstrokes, which seem to contain so much energy and emotion.

Kline loved working with house paint, something that annoyed his gallerist, Sydney Janis. One night, Janis snuck into Kline’s studio and replaced his inexpensive house paint with professional grade Windsor & Newton paints. The next day, Kline went out and bought new house paint.

Franz Kline, ‘Meryon’ 1960–1
Meryon 1960–1

Why was Kline so enamoured with house paints? For one, they were cheap and not connected to “fine art” in any way. They dry flat and glossy, which appealed to Kline. They were also fluid and fast, allowing Kline to create his long, sweeping brushstrokes. His work is primarily composed of black and white, sometimes with a few other dark colors.

Franz Kline, New York, N.Y. 1953
New York, N.Y. 1953

Kline’s work attracted me because I’ve never really been able to grasp it. People always make the annoying comment, “My 3 year old kid could make that,” and usually in reference to abstract work like Kline’s. However, after researching abstract expressionism and Kline himself, I see how that is unfair and untrue. Kline was not only an extremely accomplished draftsman, he created many studies before he committed to compositions for his pieces. The compositions he achieved were carefully planned and visually attention grabbing. He worked in layers, laying down sweeping strokes of black and adding white around them, often using several different shades of white. He’d then repeat this process many times, building up depth even in the flat nature of his work.

Franz Kline, Bethlehem 1959–60
Bethlehem 1959–60

I find Kline’s work compelling because of its static energy. It is bold. It is a little terrifying. Yet, it seems to contain infinite amounts of emotion and expression. The fact that I never feel like I fully grasp what Kline was feeling when he created his pieces adds to the sense of mystery. Some say that Kline was a very characteristically American artist in the way he thought and worked. I agree with that fact. His works, like most Americans, are brash, loud, confident, and even divisive. Many of them feel like landscapes, perhaps speaking to the vast stretches of farmland the country stands on. Kline also loved New York City, and its impact on him can be seen in much of his art. There is a sense in his work of chaotic, busy space, and bustling energy for change that is contained in dark and dreary surroundings, just like New York City possess. Researching Kline has given me a new desire to understand abstract art and its effects on viewers and the world.

Franz Kline, Black Sienna, 1960 Oil on canvas, 92 ¼ × 68 inches (234.3 × 172.7 cm)
Black Sienna, 1960


Survey 7: Plakatstil Packaging Artifact

For my third “spread”, I got to create an artifact for the Design and Typography category of Survey 7. I was really excited to get to make an artifact, but a bit confused by the lack of research information my group and I were able to gather. I knew I wanted to create a tactile object, not a poster or something flat.

My group and I each researched an important graphic designer. The common thread that tied them all together was their work in the Plakatstil movement. I decided to take this topic and create my object based on the style of the movement.

I ended up making three objects, a tomato can, a jar of cocoa powder, and a pack of cigarettes. These are all objects that were designed and sold back the early 1900’s, but are also still sold today. To put a little spin on it, I decided to pick well known brand names that are retailed today: Hunt’s, Hershey’s, and Lucky Strike, and redesign their packaging in the plakatstil style. I used inspiration from the designers we researched and included them by listing their names on the back of the cigarette pack.

I also decided to include my written portion on the objects themselves, and photographed both their fronts and backs. On the left side of my spread is the written portion on the back of my objects, taken in the photography lab under studio lights. This helped to differentiate it from the left side, which is a photo of the objects staged on a kitchen shelf to give context to the project.

Overall, I’m really happy with how this one turned out and it’s definitely my favourite of the 3 spreads I’ve created in this class.

Self Assessment: 8.5/10.


Survey 9:


The shortest period yet, Survey 9 covered the years 1925 – 1930. In only 5 years, a ton happened. Nowhere was this more true than in Germany, where a HUGELY important design school was growing: the Bauhaus. In 1919, Water Gropius, an architect, founded the school at only 31 years old. The Bauhaus was an arts and crafts school, whose aim was to create beautiful, accessible objects and design. It aimed to “breathe a soul into the dead product of the machine,” and led students to focus on the creative process, making prototypes that could be sold to the manufacturing industry to create real, impactful design. Students at the Bauhaus studied in many disciplines: design, architecture, dance, theatre, photography, furniture design, and more. The school housed many workshops and studios where students could work hands on, learning trades as well as the ideas behind their work. As the school became more widely known and influential, the local government grew uncomfortable. In 1923, Gropius resigned and the school closed. However, unsatisfied with the situation, he began looking for a new city that would be more welcoming to the school. When he found the industrial city of Dessau, a new Bauhaus school was built, designed by the students themselves. The Bauhaus school was closed permanently by the Nazis in 1933, but it was decades ahead of its time and influences the way we think about design to this day.


The man Jan himself!

Phoebus Palast Poster

Jan Tschichold was born on April 2, 1902, in Leipzig, Germany. His father was a sign painter, so Tschichold’s visual arts education began from an early age. From 1919 to 1921, Tschichold attended the Leipzig Academy of Graphic Arts and Book Production, studying calligraphy. This emphasis on type would set him apart from many of his peers, who were trained in fine arts. At the Leipzig Academy, he was treated as an equal by many of his teachers and developed a relationship with another important designer, Paul Renner, who designed the Futura typeface

After school, Tschichold worked as a freelance artist and designer until his understanding of design was completely changed bye the 1923 Bauhaus exhibit. Here, his whole outlook on typography was changed. The expedition introduced him to modernist design, and birthed his love for sans serif fonts. He also saw geometric and asymmetric compositions.


Only a few years later, Tschichold, still captivated with the new ideas of typography he had seen at the Bauhaus, published a special issue in a magazine called “Elementare Typographie”, containing his personal ideas on the matter. He expanded and refined on this in his groundbreaking book, Die neue Typographie (The New Typography: A Handbook for Modern Designers, 1928). In this book he laid out rules of type hierarchy and the idea to standardize paper sizes. The book was sent out to printers and designers all over Europe in an effort to reform typography across the continent.

A page spread from Die Neue Typographie

In 1933, the Nazi party took control of Germany. Tschichold’s ideas about typography and art did not align with their strict ideologies, since his were somewhat similar to Fascism. He and his wife were imprisoned as “Intellectual minorities.” When they were finally released 6 weeks later, they fled, along with their son, to Switzerland.

Sabon typeface, designed by Tschichold

During this time, Tschichold’s ideas began to soften and his perspective on design expanded. There are two possible reasons for this. One is that as he matured, his extreme views on design did too. Another is that he was avoiding the harsh gaze of the Nazi party, who were still on his heels. Either way, Tschichold announced that perhaps he got it wrong, perhaps serif fonts weren’t all that bad, among other things. Many people in the design world were shocked and somewhat offended by this switch of perspective, but since Tschichold was the first in his field to define principles of design, people clung to his early ideas even as he realized it was time to update them.

Tschichold did a lot of important work in his later years. After leaving Germany, he worked as a design consultant for Hoffman-La Roche, a pharmaceutical company. He designed Sabon, a typeface still widely used today. From 1947 to 1949, he worked as a graphic designer for Penguin books in London. Here he developed a design system for Penguin’s new line of books. He created a template for book covers that could be used over and over with any book, establishing a cohesive look for all the titles. These designs remain iconic today, and they were widely copied during his time. Tschichold also published several other influential books on typography and design. He was awarded the prestigious AGIA medal, as well as the Gutenberg Prize of Leipzig for his work in design.

Tschichold’s iconic Penguin book designs in their various iterations

Tschichold once made the (slightly cocky) claim that he was the most influential type designer of his time. As annoying as someone has to be to say that about themselves, Tschichold was right. His impact on typography is, and continues to be huge.


Jan Tschichold

Designer Focus: Jan Tschichold

Maurice Denis

One of Denis’s early works, showcasing the religious aspect of his art

Maurice Denis is an artist whose work spans several periods and bridge the gaps between important movements in art. Since he was a prolific artist with various movements of art, he is difficult to classify definitively. Aside from an artist, Denis was a writer and a theoretician – an intelligent man who experienced life and produced art on an intellectual as well as visual level. At only twenty years old he penned the famous words, “It should be remembered that a picture—before being a warhorse, a nude, or an anecdote of some sort—is essentially a flat surface covered with colours assembled in a certain order.” His work is tied together with a common thread – that is his affinity for the decorative aspects of art.

Bathers at Perros Guirec (1912)

Wave (1916)








Denis was born on November 25, 1870, in Granville, France. As a child, he discovered his dual passions in religion and painting. These would continue to captivate him throughout his life. He studied at the Académie Julian in 1888, and then at the École des Beaux-Arts. His influences include Paul Gauguin, and after his visit to Italy in the 20th century, Raphael and Cézanne.

This painting shows the influence of Japanism on Denis’s work

Denis, along with Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Villard, Ker Xavier Roussel, and Paul Sérusier, was a founding member of the Les Nabis group, which grew out of the Symbolist movement. These men were influenced by the impressionists, but carried the movement a step further, away from realism. Denis used flat color, influenced by Japanism, and believed that the primary purpose of his paintings was to express “faith and love.

Denis’s penchant for religion helped to cause a revival of religious art in Paris. He lived through 2 world wars, and was an extremely respected and sought-after painter. In 1919, along with Georges Devallières, he founded the Studio of Sacred Art.

One of Denis’s later works, Gioco del volano (Racket game on a lawn)

A personal favorite of mine as a kid – I didn’t even know this was Denis’s until I was nearly finished researching!



Survey 8: Dadaddyy


1915 – 1920 was a pretty boomin’ time for the world in general. The first world war changed the way society operated on a major scale. With men off on the battlefields, women gained more freedom to work and exist outside the sphere of the home. In culture, everything was changing. Styles were loosening, hems and hair were shortening, and alcohol was illegal. Jazz clubs and speakeasies became popular as an escape from the confines of the prohibition in Canada and the United States. The new movement Dadaism grew out of traumatization from WWI and loss of connection to reality. In Zurich, Swizerland, Tristan Tzara and Robert Delaunay were two major leaders of the movement, which sprang up in different forms in other cities around Europe. Russian constructivism was another important movement that had a huge impact on design. Artists in this movement were inspired by Plato, who believed that geometry was the highest form of beauty. They used geometric shapes and typography in black, red, and white to create abstract designs.



Art Deco

Art Deco is the short name for Arts Décoratifs, a style in decorative arts and architecture that is sometimes also referred to as style moderne. The style was preceded by art moderne and was introduced during the 1925 Paris world fair, called the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. Springing up during a time of turmoil, recession, and world conflict, the aim of the style was to bring modernity into art. The style was progressive and symbolic, and was concerned with being modern, but not in a way that sacrificed visual beauty.

The Story of the Tribune tower

Howells - History Sketch
A sketch for plans for the Tribune Tower

Image result for tribune tower alternate designs
Some alternate designs for the tribune tower

Once upon a time, in 1922 to be exact, the Chicago Tribune (a newspaper) turned 75 years old. To commemorate this fact, they decided to give themselves a big birthday present: a new building for their headquarters. In order to find a design for the building, they held a worldwide competition, seeking “for Chicago, the most beautiful building in the world,” with a grand prize of $100,000 to the winning designer. Of course, submissions came pouring in.



Tribune Tower
The Gothic crown of the tower illuminated at night

260 different designs from 23 countries were submitted, mainly from the US and Europe. Interestingly enough, the European designs were mainly wild and impractical. They were artsy and unique, to be sure, but were ignored the fact that the building had a definite purpose – it was an office. The American designers understood the relationship the building would have with the city and the business, and created similar skyscrapers, altering the “crown” or top part of the building to suit their artistic interpretations. The winning entry came from Raymond Hood and John Mead Howells, two American architects, and succeeded in combining efficient office space and the wow! factor that the Tribune was seeking. Not only was it effective and beautiful, its combination of Art Deco and Gothic styles appealed to the rich history and reputation associated with the iconic newspaper.


Tribune Tower
The tower under construction (on right)

The Tribune Tower was build from Indiana limestone and the design was inspired mainly by the Rouen Cathedral in France. Into the lower walls of the tower were built bricks and stones from 149 special locations, among which were Bunker Hill, St. Peter’s Basilica, Westminster Abbey, Omaha Beach, Edinburgh Castle, the Taj Mahal, the Great Wall of China, and the Rouen Cathedral.


Chicago: Tribune Tower
The Tribune Tower today

The building’s construction was an exciting process. Several publicity stunts drew tens of thousands of spectators and news articles all over the country. And on the day the tower opened, more than 20,000 people lined up to be the first inside the building. The Grand Rapid Press gushed that, “Chicago is everlastingly better as a place to live and visit because of the Tribune’s artistic tower on Michigan Boulevard,” and the Illinois State Journal declared that the Tribune Tower would “be a joy forever.” Even the Tribune’s competitors couldn’t help but sing the tower’s praises.