Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Chicago: A History in Block-Print

These linoleum-block prints were created by a group of design students under the direction of Clara MacGowan, assistant professor of art at Northwestern University. They were published in 1934 in an oversized paperbound portfolio, accompanied by captions by James Alton James, a professor of American history at the same institution.

The prints were presented in chronological order, beginning with Marquette and Joliet in 1673 and concluding with several images of the Century of Progress exposition of 1933. Some of the earlier images may now seem a bit trite (log cabins, Indians attacking a woman with a hatchet, and so on), and the level of command of the medium among the various students varies, but many of the architectural scenes are quite vigorous and appealing. In the selection below I have included the subject of each print and the name of the artist responsible, but have omitted the historical captions.

University Hall, Northwestern University (Josephine McCarty)

The Tribune Tower (Louise Ebeling Dean)

The University of Chicago Chapel (C. Dean Chipman)

The Daily News Building (Alice Rose Dedouch)

The Chicago Civic Opera House (Dorothy Aires Westerdahl)

The Deering Library, Northwestern University (Hannah Jewett)

With one ambiguous exception -- C. Dean Chapman -- the students were apparently all women. It would be interesting to know whether any of them continued their printmaking activities after graduation.


Omar said...

Hey! Where do you find those works? Do you happen to know how many prints or how many artists participate in the compilation?

Chris said...

There are about fifty prints. Some or all of the artists are represented by multiple prints, so the number of artists is probably closer to twenty.

Anonymous said...

My mother, Louise Ebeling Dean, made the one of the prints. She continued dabbling in block prints as an art teacher and, as long as she was able, she used that medium for her Christmas cards. I have a copy of her print but not the whole book. Thanks for posting it.

Chris said...

Thank you, Anonymous. That print was quite a piece of draftsmanship!