Friday, April 3, 2009

Tiffany Trophy

While at the American History Museum I not only saw Julia Child's kitchen, per yesterdays post, but I also saw this unusual trophy presented to Willard A. Smith, the administrator for the Transportation exhibitions that were inside the building. It was given to the Smithsonian by his grandson. Made by Tiffany & Co. in honor of his Transportation Building at the 1893 World's Columbus Exhibition in Chicago, the vase celebrates the only forward looking 'modern' building at the fair with a model of the 'golden arch' on the trophy.
Many architects claim the Beaux-Arts designed and influenced campus set American architecture back 50 years (I have to admit though that I LOVE beaux arts design).
Louis Sullivan steered a new course in modern architecture; For this he is known as the 'father of modernism' among architects. He is credited for being the inventor of the skyscraper and was also mentor to Frank Lloyd Wright: probably the most important architect to come out of Chicago or even arguably the United States.Sullivan is the architect who coined the phrase "Form ever follows Function" (form follows function), probably what he is best known for today!
All of this from a little Tiffany vase at the Smithsonian! Many thanks to Bonnie Campbell Lilienfeld, the curator of the artifact walls, for the additional information!

11 comments:

columnist said...

The building's design is very "Indian", (as in the Lake Palace, Udaipur in Rajasthan). I suppose he might have been influenced by that?

Renee Finberg said...

soooooooooo informative !!
love your posts.
xx

Renae said...

Michael,
What a gorgeous trophy...thank you so much for the history behind it.
Blessings...

ArchitectDesign said...

Columnist -with the towers it does look pretty Indian, doesn't it? He was a very electic architect working with roman, greek and exotic influences. Very original!
Renee and Renae -thanks so much! But Renae, I love that you're a faithful commenter (i need more of those) but I'm not michael, I'm stefan! hehe

magnaverde said...

Well, I'm torn, Stefan. As the official Historian of an Adler & Sullivan's Auditorium Theatre, I'm interested in any A&S building, and though I have dozens of images of the Transportation Building, I've never seen this incredible vase before. I've got to get a bigger image of it. The immense Transportation Building was voted the People's Favorite--even though (or perhaps because) its brilliant polychrome decoration flew in the face of pristine white finish of all the Fair's other buildings--and the French Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs awarded Sullivan a gold medal for his work, but this amazing vase (and the award it must represent) is brand new to me, and I need a bigger image of it.

Unfortunately, I'm more impressed with the fact that Sullivan received it, and with your posting a picture of it than I am with its actual design, which seems quite unlovely. Since it's a Tiffany piece, I'm sure the workmanship is exquisite, but the awkward grafting of Sullivan's square-profiled Golden Door on top of the vases' otherwise classically beautiful form makes it a cautionary example of the Frankenstein results that can come from ignoring Sullivan's own words. Talk about ironic!

Speaking of the specific imagery of the Transportation Building, however, check out the small bath-house building in San Diego that was later designed by Irving Gill, better known for his early Modern masterpieces in Southern California.

photobucket.com/albums/a286/MAGNAVERDE/MAGNAVERDE--irvinggill--losbanossan.jpg

Gill had worked on the plans for the Golden Doorway during his short period in the Adler & Sullivan office in Chicago before health problems sent him off to a warmer climate, and beyond Gill's characteristic later use of broad, powerful arch&es & hipped roofs, several of his early California projects show an unmistakable recycling of specific A&S works.

Great post!

custardbydesign said...

i agree...it has a certain taj mahal-esque quality to it...

great post stefan...

cool trophy

wonder will anythign i create achieve such accreditation...?

ArchitectDesign said...

Magneverde -the vase is pretty ugly, I have to agree with you there -but the workmanship is lovely of course. Also -just the fact that it exists is pretty interesting! The link you included didn't seem to work unfortunately. If you email me I can reply with the full sized photo of the trophy - it was very dim though and the quality isn't very good I'm afraid.
Custard, I often wonder the same thing! Only a lucky few!

Laura Casey Interiors said...

such an interesting post. love Beaux Arts and always great to see it all connected.

allie in g'town said...

I love the Museum of Natural History with Dorothy's ruby slippers and Carrie Bradshaw's laptop! Totally my fav of all the Smithsonian Museums.

Collar's Up!
Allie in G'town

brandon sargent said...

hey stefan-
did you read this article? it's short, but an interesting read about chicago and the exhibition.

http://www.newyorker.com/arts/critics/skyline/2009/03/09/090309crsk_skyline_goldberger

ArchitectDesign said...

Allie, I stopped by to see both of those of course :-)
Brandon -thanks for pointing out the article, it was really interesting,if a bit too brief!