The Twentieth Century Society

Campaigning for outstanding buildings

The Manufacturers Trust building, 510 Fifth Avenue at 43rd Street, designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, completed in 1954

Mad men chic

Reviewing this current exhibition (in New York) of photographs by Ezra Stoller (American, 1915-2004), NY Times critic Michael Kimmelman says “the passage of years can turn the best commerce into art” (February 5, 2013).  I am not sure if I agree with that or not, but  there are certainly some great images,  including ones commissioned by Fortune, Architectural Forum, and House Beautiful magazines in the 1940s and by IBM, Upjohn Pharmaceuticals and CBS in the 1940s and 1950s.  Not clear if the ones of  buildings by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill were commissioned by the clients or (as seems more likely) the architects.

Ezra Stoller is  one of the most influential commercial photographers of Modern architecture. Architecture critic Paul Goldberger once noted, “…his work has made him perhaps the most celebrated architectural photographer of the 20th Century; his pictures…have in and of themselves played a major role in shaping the public’s perception of what modern architecture is about.”

There is also a newly published book, which we’ll plan on reviewing in the next C20 Magazine, and as well as the architectural images, it has some less familiar things, including a stunning colour image of a pill factory production line.



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