Event—Public Programming

Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America


Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America, an expansive take on American Art Deco, explores and celebrates Chicago's pivotal role in developing the architecture, graphic design, and product design that came to define middle-class style in the twentieth century.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s lost Midway Gardens, the iconic Sunbeam Mixmaster, and Marshall Field’s famed window displays: despite the differences in scale and medium, each belongs to the broad current of an Art Deco style that developed in Chicago in the first half of the twentieth century. This ambitious overview of the city’s architectural, product, industrial, and graphic design between 1910 and 1950 offers a fresh perspective on a style that would come to represent the dominant mode of modernism for the American middle class.

The book narrates Art Deco’s evolution in 101 key works, carefully curated and chronologically organized to tell the story of not just a style but a set of sensibilities. Critical essays from leading figures in the field discuss the ways in which Art Deco created an entire visual universe that extended to architecture, advertising, household objects, clothing, and even food design. Through this comprehensive approach to one of the twentieth century’s most pervasive modes of expression in America, Art Deco Chicago provides an essential overview of both this influential style and the metropolis that came to embody it.

Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America, published in Fall 2018, is the companion volume to the Chicago History Museum exhibition Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America.

Robert Bruegmann, the volume's editor, is a historian and critic of architecture, landscape, preservation, urban development, and the built environment. He is the Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Art History, Architecture, and Urban Planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He has written numerous books and articles, including the award-winning volume The Architects and the City: Holabird & Roche of Chicago, 1880-1918, the controversial Sprawl: A Compact History, and, most recently, The Architecture of Harry Weese. He is also a frequent lecturer, contributor to magazines and blogs, and guest on radio and television shows.

After his talk Bruegmann will sign copies of the book, which will be available for purchase.

Download a PDF flyer for this event, to post and distribute, and check out a Quick Guide to related materials in the Newberry collection.

This event is cosponsored with the Newberry's program in Chicago Studies. Your generosity is vital in keeping the library’s programs, exhibitions, and reading rooms free and accessible to everyone. Make a donation today.

The Book Art Deco Chicago: Designing Modern America is funded in part by the Terra Foundation for the American Art as part of Art Design Chicago, an exploration of Chicago's art and design legacy, an initiative of the Terra Foundation with presenting partner the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation. The publication of Art Deco Chicago is a major educational initiative of the Chicago Art Deco Society, a nonprofit organization. Proceeds from sales of Art Deco Chicago will be be used to support the ongoing public education, research, and preservation advocacy of this critical period of modern American design.