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April 6, 2018

Designed to be Seen: Art and Function in Chicago Mid-Century Film

Stiegler_04

still image from Robert Stiegler’s Licht Spiel Nur I (circa 1967)

We are extremely proud to announce Designed to be Seen: Art and Function in Chicago Mid-Century Film - a four program film series that will screen in fall 2018 as part of the Terra Foundation for American Art’s Art Design Chicago initiative. Art Design Chicago is a wide-ranging initiative spearheaded by the Terra Foundation and developed in partnership with more than 60 cultural organizations to explore the ongoing influence of Chicago’s art and design history.

Designed to be Seen: Art and Function in Chicago Mid-Century Film will present—for the very first time—a series of screenings that reframe the history of cinema in Chicago through various lenses and modes of production. This four program series will illuminate the diverse factors that have shaped the filmic landscape of the region from the mid-century through the 1970s. The first program in the series, “Form and Function: The Legacy of the Institute of Design,” provides historical context and a new perspective on the lasting impact of Lászlo Moholy-Nagy’s teachings at the New Bauhaus. The second and third programs, focused on industrial, commercial, sponsored, and advertising films, examine the innovative design work being done on film in the mid-century. The final program in the series, “Personal Legacies: Materiality and Abstraction,” presents personal and experimental films made by the artists who worked for the design studios and corporations highlighted in the second and third programs of the series. As a whole, the series tells a chapter of Chicago’s history on film that has yet to be seen.

Program 1: “Form and Function: The Legacy of the Institute of Design” Select films include Mort’s Personal Reel (mid-1950s-1979); IIT (1971), a sponsored film that shows scenes of student life at IIT; International Design Conference in Aspen: The First Decade (1961); and Lens Distortion (1971), a demo reel made at Goldsholl Design Associates. Program Introduction and Post-Screening Discussion: Jan Tichy (Assistant Professor, Department of Art & Technology, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

Program 2: “The New World: Industrial, Corporate, and Sponsored Films” Included are several outstanding examples of the various ways artists and designers pushed the boundaries of these genres. Films include The New World of Stainless Steel (1960, Wilding Studios, Chicago); Western Electric Company “Getting It All Together” (mid-1960s); Unemployed Jr. Executive Man (1970s); Paper: Mirror of Imagination (1975), one of a series of films made for Champion Papers Incorporated; the Container Corporation of America’s CCA & You: Partners in Achievement (1976). Screening Venue: The Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center Screening Date: October 10, 2018 – 6pm. Program Introduction and Post-Screening Discussion: Lara Allison (Lecturer, Department of Art History, Theory and Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

Program 3: “Creative Broadcast: Communication, Commercials, and Advertising” Advertising agencies such as Leo Burnett have been based in Chicago since the late 19th century. This program highlights the work of a few innovative firms and designers. Films include Addressograph-Multigraph Corporation “The Straight Talking Copy People” (mid-1970s); Allstate Insurance “Another Year of Success” (1969); and various commercials for Sears, Quaker Oats, United Airlines, and ComEd, among others. Program Introduction and Post-Screening Discussion: Michael Golec (Chair and Associate Professor of Art and Design History, Department of Art History, Theory & Criticism, School of the Art Institute of Chicago)

Program 4: “Personal Legacies: Materiality and Abstraction” This final program focuses on more personal and experimental films made by the individuals who were simultaneously working for the studios, agencies and design firms mentioned above. Intersections of the personal and the professional are explored through films including Robert Stiegler’s (Capitulation (1965) and Licht Spiel Nur I (circa 1967); Larry Janiak’s Adams Film (1963); and Byron Grush’s Fotogrammar (1969). Screening Venue: The Claudia Cassidy Theater, Chicago Cultural Center Screening Date: November 7, 2018 – 6pm. Program Introduction and Post-Screening Discussion: Daniel Bashara (Adjunct Faculty, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, DePaul University)

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