Opening Reception: Saturday, July 11, 2015, 6:00 - 8:00pm
That pesky space between art and design
For almost a century, Chicago has been perfectly positioned as the geographic and arguably cultural net in a volleyball game.
It is in this city that the (commercial) artist emerged from the back rooms of the nation’s premier printers. Typographers, illustrators, layout artists, photographers, retouchers, linoleum cutters lived within proximity of the press rooms, and as a result their works were distributed everywhere the Chicago rail system stretched.
Just before the the Great Depression, a handful of commercial artists, led by R. Hunter Middleton, came together in 1927 under a quasi-professional moniker — the Society of Typographic Arts (STA). A few years later in 1933 the key design figures of the Bauhaus, among them Laszlo Moholy Nagy and Mies Van der Rohe, took exile in Chicago bringing with them an unyielding, future-leaning, expressive presence. Their residency must have impacted the local status quo like a cinder block slamming into a puddle of mud.
Three years later, frustrated with anonymity and a dearth of visible outlets for their personal expressions, 27 of these more restless entrepreneurial commercial talents banded together as the Chicago 27. This act of camaraderie marked a moment in time as the depression was coming to an end when the Chicago ‘designer’ positioned themselves along the sightline of the more visible creative class — the artists.
Even though some of today’s post-Great Depression Chicago designers are no longer making their marks with the tools of the trade locally, they remain internet close WHEREVER. And once again that restless artist spirit and unbridled curiosity can no longer be sequestered in the back room.
The distrust for all design promises still bulges at the seams.