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Sullivan's Banks

SULLIVAN'S BANKS (Sullivans Banken) Heinz Emigholz, D 1993-2000, 38 min

Architecture as Autobiography - Louis H. Sullivan (1856-1924)
Photography and beyond - Part 2

This film shows the last eight buildings Louis H.Sullivan ("form follows function") has designed and furnished at the end of his career. He consistently draped his buildings with facades that no longer had a load-bearing function as a form of free expression. From one building to the next, both inside and outside, he varied and perfected his modular ornamental design in brick, steel, plater, terracotta, glass, ceramics, mosaic, marble, light, relief, stencil designs, wood and metal.

Sullivan's writings and constructions set out central positions of modernism, including its ambiguity. His organic ornamentation, conceived and created in conjunction with modern methods of construction, was barely noticed in Germany. Although Sullivan's work was displayed at the centre of the "Exhibition of New American Architects" in Berlin's Academy of the Arts in 1926, Europeans did not consider Sullivan to be of interest as a Theoretician, even though he was Frank Lloyd Wright's teacher.

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Press Coverage

As the film examines these beautiful, discreetly ornate red-brick buildings, which stand out like jewels in their banal contemporary surroundings, you are induced to consider the powerful psychological effect of architecture. Elegant but never gaudy, theses structures in the American heartland have the reassurance grace and solidity of secular capitalist cathedrals. And the movie admires them with a correspondingly prayerful reverence. (THE NEW YORK TIMES)

Awards and Festivals