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Elevator Door, Chicago Stock Exchange

Decorative Arts

In his 1924 book A System of Architectural Ornament, Louis Sullivan compared the metamorphosis of a seed into a plant to the development of his basic design motifs into a full-scale architectural structure. This elevator door, in which repeated small shapes merge into larger forms to produce an intricate, energy-filled overall pattern, illustrates this idea.

The design seems far less elaborate than the dense vegetal design seen in the balustrade panels by Sullivan nearby. Perhaps the difference is due to the intervention of Sullivan’s most famous disciple, Frank Lloyd Wright, who often simplified the designs of his mentor.
MEDIUM Wrought iron, cast bronze, copper
DATES 1893
DIMENSIONS 84 1/2 x 41 x 1 in., 125 lb. (214.6 x 104.1 x 2.5 cm, 56.7kg)
COLLECTIONS Decorative Arts
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Gift of Mrs. H. A. Metzger, by exchange
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