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

September 18 - December 9, 2018

It’s been an extremely fulfilling year working with the Block Museum of Art to provide access to numerous films from CFA’s Mort and Millie Goldsholl Collection that are the centerpiece of the exhibition Up is Down: Mid-century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio. Up Is Down is the first major exhibition to explore the trailblazing work of mid-twentieth century artists/designers/filmmakers Morton and Millie Goldsholl (Morton, 1911–1995; Millie 1920–2012) and their Chicago-area advertising firm, Goldsholl Design Associates.

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.

Up Is Down is curated at the Block Museum of Art by Amy Beste PhD, Director of Public Programs at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (and CFA Board Member), and Corinne Granof, PhD, Curator at Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University.


Up Is Down Opening: Hands-On Design Lab
Saturday, October 6, 10:30am

Up Is Down – Exhibition Opening Talk with Author Thomas Dyja, The Third Coast
Saturday, October 6, 2pm

Ellen Lupton: Design is Art That People Use
Wednesday, October 24, 6pm

Politics of the Studio: Race and Design in Mid-Century America
Thursday, November 1, 6pm

See the Light: Inside the Exhibition “Up Is Down”
Wednesday, November 7, 6pm

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.


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