Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio
September 18, 2018 - December 9, 2018
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.
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.
Up Is Down is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
Image: Millie Goldsholl, Morton Goldsholl, Wayne Boyer, Larry Janiak, and Dick Marx, Still from Kimberly-Clark Corporation “Fortune and Faces,” 1959, 16 mm film, 12:48 minutes. Mort and Millie Goldsholl Collection, 1942–1980, Chicago Film Archives.