International Decorative Art

Baluster from the Chicago Stock Exchange

Baluster from the Chicago Stock Exchange

Design Date 1893

Designer Louis Sullivan (1856-1924, American) & Dankmar Adler (1844-1900, American, b. Germany)

Media electroplated copper on cast iron

Dimensions 30 5/8 x 10 3/4 x 1 inches

Louis Sullivan, a Chicago architect, was called the father of the skyscraper. The Chicago Stock Exchange was a 13-story example of Sullivan’s work. With the combination of size, efficiency and ornament in the Stock Exchange, Sullivan and his partner, Dankmar Adler, proved that office buildings could be large and functional while still maintaining an aesthetic appeal. Sullivan adapted floral and botanical motifs for the Stock Exchange’s metal and stonework. This baluster from one of the staircases is an example of early American Art Nouveau. Sullivan believed that ornament should be integrated into architecture, and he used repeated motifs to tie together the architecture and ornament of a building. “It must be manifest that an ornamental design will be more beautiful if it seems a part of the surface or substance that receives it than if it looks stuck-on”, he said. A version of the baluster’s motif repeats in the stenciled walls of the Stock Exchange’s trading room, and in the decoration on the building’s stone entrance.

ON VIEW in Art Nouveau Gallery 4

Markings unmarked

Credit Line Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art

Accession Number 2011.1125