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

In the 1950s, Chicago-based design firm Goldsholl and Associates made a name for itself with innovative "designs-in-film." Headed by Morton and Millie Goldsholl, the studio produced television spots, films, trademarks, corporate identities, and print advertisements for international corporations like Kimberly-Clark, Motorola, and 7-Up. Although they were compared to some of the most celebrated design firms of the day, the Goldsholls and their designers are relatively unknown today. Opening in September 2018, the Block Museum’s exhibition Up is Down: Mid-Century Experimentation in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio will reexamine the innovative work of Goldsholl and Associates and its national impact.

The Goldsholls attended Chicago’s Institute of Design (ID) and were inspired by ID's founder, the artist and designer László Moholy-Nagy. The curriculum at ID included motion picture production, which Moholy-Nagy viewed as a medium of light and collage. Deeply influenced by Moholy-Nagy’s teachings and Bauhaus approach, with its ethos of aesthetic experimentation and social engagement, Morton and Millie fostered a similar attitude among designers working in their firm. Their work in film grew equally out of the unique moving image and design culture of Chicago. At midcentury, Chicago was known as the “Hollywood” for educational film production, churning out thousands of educational and promotional films each year. Filmmakers worked expansively—producing slide shows, short films, and spectacular industry installations, in addition to print advertising and other ephemera. The creative work these artists pursued often influenced their commercial productions and vice versa.

Featuring films, television ads, and other kinds of moving images alongside designed objects, print advertisements, trademarks, photographs, and drawings, Up is Down will be the first exhibition to illuminate the distinctive brand of motion pictures that Chicago became known for in mid-century and the ways the city served as an influential testing ground for ideas connecting art, industry, design, and film. The exhibition, its related publication, and public programs will provide context for understanding Chicago as a unique site for ideas connecting art, design, and film that eventually gained international currency. 

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OPENING CONVERSATION

Only in Chicago - Opening Day Conversation with Author Thomas Dyja, The Third Coast

October 6, 2018, 2–4 PM

Join us for the Opening Celebration of the exhibition Up Is Down: Mid-century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio.

"Improvisation, experimentation, social justice: all these things form the spine of what comes out of Chicago” – Thomas Dyja
 
In the 1950s, Chicago-based design firm Goldsholl and Associates made a name for itself with innovative "designs-in-film." Headed by Morton and Millie Goldsholl, the studio produced artistically-inspired television spots, films, trademarks, and print advertisements for international corporations like Kimberly-Clark, Motorola, and 7-Up.  Combining Bauhaus-influenced aesthetics with commercial advertising success, the firm exemplified the way in which Chicago served as the nation’s design capital and a crucial testing ground for ideas connecting art, industry, design, and film.
 
Thomas Dyja, third-generation Chicagoan and author of the award-winning Third Coast: When Chicago Built the American Dream, will discuss why Chicago was fertile ground for the Goldsholls’ work— and explore the mid-century circumstances that united culture and industry across the city.  In conversation with Dyja, exhibition co-curators Amy Beste and Corinne Granof will share insight into the groundbreaking work of the Goldsholl Associates, tracing its artistic influences, including those of artist and designer László Moholy-Nagy, as well as the Firms’ lasting design legacy.

 


CONVERSATION

Ellen Lupton: Design is Art People Use

October 24, 2018 6-8 PM

Inspired by the exhibition Up Is Down, writer and curator Ellen Lupton will show how experimental media have transformed commercial design. In the 1950s and 60s, the Goldsholl design firm’s creative explorations of light and media found their way into lucrative television commercials and industrial patents. Lupton will explore pivotal examples of how abstract or speculative practices can critique, predict, or transcend the limits of everyday design. From the Bauhaus to Minority Report and Black Mirror, the strange and alarming visual languages invented by creative artists have the power to melt into daily life. Today’s digital culture blurs the boundaries between art and commerce, transforming what see and how we see it. Ellen Lupton is curator of contemporary design at Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City and director of the Graphic Design MFA program at Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).

 

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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 with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, this citywide partnership of cultural organizations explores Chicago’s art and design legacy with more than 25 exhibitions and hundreds of events in 2018.

 

Up Is Down is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

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. 

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