Designers in Film

Up is Down: Mid-century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl studio

September 18, 2018 - December 9, 2018
Main Gallery

This exhibition will examine the innovative Chicago-based design firm, Goldsholl Design Associates, its principals Morton and Millie Goldsholl and the associates affiliated with their firm, and these practitioners’ extensive impact on design and film nationally from the 1950s through the 1970s. The Goldsholls trained at the Chicago-based School of Design where László Moholy-Nagy, a Hungarian émigré from the German Bauhaus school faculty, famously fostered a curriculum of aesthetic experimentation and social engagement. Moholy-Nagy’s emphasis on film in the school’s design curriculum made Chicago distinct from other American institutions. The innovative approaches that emerged from the Goldsholls’ experiences at the School of Design placed their firm at the forefront of their peers in design and the wider community of filmmakers. The Goldsholls worked at the cross-section of art, design, advertising, and visual culture. Their innovative motion pictures, which they called “designs-in-film,” applied techniques of experimental and avant-garde filmmaking to advertisements distributed to a wide audience. Up Is Down will be the first major project to study the Goldsholl firm’s history as a particular outgrowth of Chicago’s social, artistic, and economic climate.

Up Is Down will also examine and illuminate the distinctive vein of industrial film that Chicago became known for from the 1950-70s and these industrial films’ interdependent relationship to avant-garde film experiments produced by the same artists and designers. The Block exhibition will feature moving images alongside materials related to their creation, including designed objects, drawings, print advertisements, logos, photographs, and other ephemera. Together, the exhibition, its related publication, and public programs will provide context for understanding Chicago as a testing ground for ideas connecting art, design, and film that eventually gained international currency and as a producer of influential synthesizers of these ideas. 


This exhibition is presented in conjunction with  Art Design Chicago, a wide-ranging initiative to explore the breadth of Chicago’s role as a catalyst and incubator for innovations in art and design. Art Design Chicago is a spirited celebration of the unique and vital role Chicago plays as America’s crossroads of creativity and commerce. Led by the Terra Foundation for American Art, this citywide partnership of cultural organizations explores Chicago’s art and design legacy with more than 25 exhibitions and hundreds of events in 2018.


Image: Millie Goldsholl, Morton Goldsholl, Wayne Boyer, Larry Janiak, and Dick Marx, Still from Kimberly-Clark Corporation “Fortune and Faces,” 1959, 16 mm film, 12:48 minutes. Mort and Millie Goldsholl Collection, 1942–1980, Chicago Film Archives.