Out of the Vault 2013: MEET MORT & MILLIE
In 2012 Chicago Film Archives acquired the film collection of graphic designers, Mort and Millie Goldsholl. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, the Chicago-based Goldsholl Design and Film Associates made a name for itself with its “designs-in-film”— playful, constructivist collages, stylized graphic animation, and dazzling light displays in spectacular industrial films, television ads, title sequences, and short independent art films. The couple’s experimentation with form and exploration of collage and abstraction reflected their training at the Bauhaus-inspired School of Design in Chicago—one of the first educational institutions in the United States to teach film within the context of art and design. From the time the Goldsholls began making films in the late 1950s through the 1980s, their work reached millions of viewers in conference rooms, living rooms, and film festivals across the country. (Amy Beste, “Designers in Film: Goldsholl Associates, the Avant-Garde and Midcentury Advertising Films” 2012)
In spite of their importance to design, film advertising and regional history the Goldsholls are virtually unknown today. This year’s Out of the Vault screening will begin to correct that omission in design history. The program plans to reintroduce to Chicago audiences the innovative films that Mort & Millie made and collected over the years. It will include select films that the Goldsholls made, films by their colleagues at the School of Design, as well as films the Goldsholl’s collected over the years. Our intention is to uncover the work of these two unheralded Chicago designers as well as the era that nurtured, supported and ultimately produced the ideas of Maholy-Nagy and his students at the School of Design.
Amy Beste, who recently authored a chapter on the Goldsholls in Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society, will introduce this program. The screening will be followed by a panel discussion with Victor Margolin (Professor Emeritus of Design History at UIC), Susan Keig (Designer and former Vice President of Design Department at Goldsholl Design and Film Associates), and Wayne Boyer (Filmmaker and Professor Emeritus at UIC).
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Kimberly-Clark Corporation “Kleenex X-Periments: Glove Love”, Goldsholl Design and Film Associates, 1960s, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 1.5min
A surprisingly sweet love story between two gloves is one of a series of fantastically inventive commercials made for Kleenex Tissues that won numerous awards.
Night Driving, Millie & Mort Goldsholl, 1957, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 9min
Back in 1957, Mort & Millie loaded the kids in the back of the car and headed downtown. Mort drove while Millie shot out the window. The result of this magical family car ride is Night Driving, Mort & Millie’s first experimental film. Chicago’s vibrant nightlife is transformed to a soft-focus view of colored spheres.
Black White and Gray, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, 1930, B&W, Silent, 16mm transfer, 5.5min
László Moholy-Nagy, one of the leading figures in the Bauhaus, made this short film based on the shadow patterns of his Light-Space Modulator, an early kinetic sculpture consisting of a variety of curved objects in a carefully choreographed cycle of movements. Created in 1930, the film was originally planned as the sixth and final part of a much longer work depicting the new space-time. Description courtesy of SFMoma
Intergalactic Zoo, Millie Goldsholl, late 1960s/early 1970s, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 3.5min
Dedicated to the men, women and children of Mars, this fantastical animation uses the simplest of elements: solid backgrounds, block letters, and a length of metal chain. The creatures created are the kind of strange and other-worldly beings that thrive only in children’s dreams and play.
Science Research Associates “Pitter Patterns”, Goldsholl Design and Film Associates, 1960, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 10min
A sponsored film made for the Science Research Association (SRA), a Chicago-based publisher of educational materials and schoolroom reading comprehension products. Through dazzling graphics and voice over, the film endorses the SRA’s reading kits for elementary school-aged children, while also providing a wide-lens on languages throughout the world. Children’s voices courtesy of the student body of Wayne Thomas Elementary School in Highland Park.
Dissent Illusion, Millie & Mort Goldsholl, B&W, Sound, 11 min.
Experimental film made by the husband and wife duo. The human form takes center stage, while The Electrosoniks (Philips Recording 600-047) set an other-worldly tone.
Pabst Brewing Company “Old Milwaukee”, Goldsholl Design and Film Associates, 1964, Color, Sound, 3min
A sponsored film made by Goldsholl Design and Film Associates for Pabst Brewing Company. A taste of the firm’s playful design aesthetic and stop-animation techniques.
Magazine Publishers Association “First Impression”, Goldsholl Design and Film Associates, 1960s, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 8.5min
Made for the MPA (The Association of Magazine Media), this Goldsholl Design and Film Associates film gives as much attention to the inner workings of the consumer’s eye as it does to the featured consumer product – magazines. Through a smartly edited collage of print media, the film shows us the significance of still images and the power of first impressions. The film won many awards including the Gold medal and Silver Hugo at the Chicago International Film Festival and First Prize at the National Visual Presentation Association, New York.
Frank Film, Frank & Caroline Mouris, 1973, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 9min
A collection of 11,592 still images sequenced to illustrate the chronology of the filmmaker’s life. Spanning the years of 1945-1973, this wildly entertaining animated short goes beyond the story of one man’s existence to become a collective autobiography of our time. Winner of the 1974 Academy Award for Best Short Subject, Animated Films. Description courtesy of Direct Cinema
Kimberly-Clark Corporation “Kleenex X-Periments: Scratch”, Goldsholl Design and Film Associates, 1960s, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 2min
Former Institute of Design instructor and Goldsholl Design and Film Associatess team-members, Wayne Boyer & Lawrence (Larry) Janiak, spear-headed the creation of this particular Kleenex X-Periment. Janiak’s cameraless direct animation features playful scratch formations set to an up-beat tune and won awards at several international film festivals. Be on the lookout for Mort Goldsholl (hint: he has a mustache!).
Disintegration Line #1, Lawrence Janiak, B&W, Silent, 9min
Another direct animation by Lawrence Janiak, this piece features chemically generated visual variations produced directly on 16mm film. The grey tones and the very subtle coloration effects are all the result of the persistence of vision in the eye. The abstract animation field textures subtly depict the infinitesimal nuclei of energy called Tanmatra, a moving field of aggregates of atoms and cosmic motion called the dance of Shiva. This full field abstract animation is produced by the Brownian motion effect. (Description courtesy of Lawrence Janiak)
Rhythm, Len Lye, 1957, B&W, Sound, 16mm transfer, 2min
Intended as a publicity film for Chrysler, Rhythm uses rapid editing to speed up the assembly of a car, synchronizing it to African drum music. The sponsor was horrified by the music and suspicious of the way a worker was shown winking at the camera; although Rhythm won first prize at a New York advertising festival, it was disqualified because Chrysler had never given it a television screening. P. Adams Sitney wrote, “Although his reputation has been sustained by the invention of direct painting on film, Lye deserves equal credit as one of the great masters of montage.” And in Film Culture, Jonas Mekas said to Peter Kubelka, “Have you seen Len Lye’s 50-second automobile commercial? Nothing happens there…except that it’s filled with some kind of secret action of cinema.” Description courtesy of Harvard Film Archive
Kimberly-Clark Corporation “Kleenex X-Periments: Sneeze”, Goldsholl Design and Film Associates, 1960s, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 2min
The final installment of the three-part Kleenex X-Periments series. Three flowers and one bee provoke quite the sneeze.
Up is Down, Millie Goldsholl, 1969, Color, Sound, 16mm transfer, 6.5min
A short animated film that presents a study of an unconventional young boy who is temporarily persuaded to accept others’ viewpoints as his own.
program by Anne Wells