From Richmond to Chicago, the Reopened American Wing

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On my first visit to the reopened American Wing at the Met, I walked past rooms from Richmond, glass from Pittsburgh and pottery from Cincinnati. Nothing in the exhibit that day struck me as much as a Louis Sullivan staircase from Chicago, however. Perhaps with American on the mind, this was because there’s no place more American than the city of broad shoulders. At first glance I thought it may be Tiffany, if not Sullivan, but Sullivan it was and coincidentally appropriate too.
Louis Sullivan Staircase from the Chicago Stock Exchange
Louis Sullivan Staircase from the Chicago Stock Exchange

The staircase is actually one of a pair from the Chicago Stock Exchange. The staircases were removed from that building of American form–a skyscraper, when it gave way after only a fraction of a century to an activity almost as American as buying and selling stock–building demolition.

I give you Chicago. It is not London–and Harvard. It is not Paris–and buttermilk. It is American in every chitlin and sparerib and it is alive from snout to tail.  H.L. Mencken

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

1 comments

How can I get a quality photo of the Sullivan stair case shown on this page? My husband LOVES Sullivan and bought a piece of the stair case as sculptural art for our home and has mentioned a desire to have a photo of it, in tact, with perhaps copy specifying what is shown in photo.
Can you help?
Gratefully and respectfully,

Angela Borneman
949-244-5962

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