Louis H. Sullivan's midwestern banks have not been treated kindly by history. Dismissed by a generation of modernist critics as the sad swansong of a troubled late career, they have begun to attract a different kind of notice. Lauren Weingarden provides the first complete documentation of all eight banks, including the details of their commission, and argues persuasively for their establishment in the pantheon of lost architectural masterworks. The book is enriched by the recovery of Henry Fuermann's photo-archive and the inclusion of 15 previously unpublished color photographs by Crombie Taylor.What emerges from this study of the programs, plans, interiors, and ornamentation is a new appreciation of Sullivan's overall cultural and architectural intentions in these extraordinary buildings. Weingarden finds a consistency between these last works and Sullivan's heroic Chicago period. She shows that the banks were in fact the logical outcome of strategies he had been developing all along: Sullivan continued to be a rationalist planner and technician as well as a brilliant ornamentalist and decorator, and an artful interpreter of regional stylistic traditions. Long regarded as the eccentric addenda to a lapsed career, the bank commissions can now be appreciated as the truest embodiment of the democratic architecture that Sullivan had campaigned for during his entire career.
Louis H. Sullivan: The Banks was the American nominee among all manuscripts entered for the annual Art History Prize from the International Confederation of Art Dealers. Published with the assistance of the J. Paul Getty Trust.