Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery is pleased to announce the opening of Skyscraper Gothic: Medieval Style & Modernist Buildings, on view February 14–May 22, 2022.
The exhibit is co-curated by Kevin D. Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities, professor and chair of the department of History of Art and Architecture, and Lisa Reilly, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History, School of Architecture, University of Virginia.
Skyscraper Gothic presents an interdisciplinary interpretation of an important—but overlooked—phase in the stylistic development of the tall office building. Among the most beloved examples of American architecture, skyscrapers such as the Woolworth (1913), Chicago Tribune (1925), Radiator (1924) and Empire State (1931) buildings sparked a wave of objects and images that exploited their forms to announce the advent of a modern American style in the early twentieth century.
Skyscraper Gothic explores how these buildings, sometimes dismissed for their Gothic or Art Deco elements, were originally embraced as emblems of modern American life. The curators trace the pervasiveness of skyscraper Gothic in architectural design on writers, painters, printmakers and designers.
Among the recent gallery acquisitions included are original drawings of the Woolworth building by the office of architect Cass Gilbert. Other new acquisitions include Leon Louis Dolice’s pastel New York Street Scene (1930), Jacob Vanderbilt’s painting View of the Woolworth building in Winter through the Arch of the Municipal Building (1913) and Joseph Pennell’s etching, The Woolworth through the Arch (1921). Childe Hassam’s monumental painting The Skyscraper Window (1934) speaks to how material objects shape our lives as well as our perceptions of the modern age.
Skyscraper Gothic Events
- Curators’ Walk Through and Reception, Thursday, March 24, 4:10–5:10 p.m., Fine Arts Gallery
Co-curators Kevin D. Murphy, Andrew W. Mellon Chair in the Humanities and professor and chair of the department of History of Art and Architecture, and Lisa Reilly, Commonwealth Professor of Architectural History at the University of Virginia will present a tour of the Skyscraper Gothic exhibition at the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery. Highlights include a massive iron grate made by famed metalworker Samuel Yellin for the Woolworth Building in New York City and a painting of the New York skyline in 1914 originally painted for Harold Stirling Vanderbilt’s yacht Vagrant. The curators will share how the large collection of working drawings for the Woolworth Building, made in the office of architect Cass Gilbert, made their way from the loft of a Maine barn to the collection of the Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery. A reception will follow in the Cohen Memorial Hall Atrium.
- Art Builds, March 2, April 6, May 4 (First Wednesday of the month), 3–4 p.m., Fine Arts Gallery
A monthly in-person drop-in discussion about the art on exhibit. Bring your questions or come enjoy the gallery as a contemplative space.
- Monthly Exhibit Tours, March 1*, April 12, May 10 (Second Tuesday of the month), Noon-1 p.m., Fine Arts Gallery
Join gallery staff for a guided tour of Skyscraper Gothic: Medieval Style & Modernist Buildings with focus on a different artist or artwork each month: March 1*– Childe Hassam, April 12–Cass Gilbert, May 10–Skyscrapers in pop culture [*moved to the first week of March due to Spring Break]
The Vanderbilt University Fine Arts Gallery is located in Cohen Memorial Hall, 1220 21st Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37203. Please direct any questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.