…this would be a great exhibit to see: Inspiration in an Era of Crisis The architects and designers who helped win World War II.
Wall Street Opinion Journal JOEL HENNINGTuesday, August 2, 2005
CHICAGO–”What did you do in the war, Daddy?” was the classic refrain of baby boomers, referring to their fathers’ roles during World War II. Today, few of us have yet heard much about the part played by architects and industrial designers in the 1940s, either in the war effort or in the peacetime activity that immediately followed. “1945: Creativity and Crisis, Chicago Architecture and Design of the World War II Era” is the Art Institute of Chicago’s worthy effort to fill this gap, showing how designers participated in the transformation of America into a giant factory producing war matériel and then adapted wartime techniques to deal with design challenges during the postwar boom in consumerism, housing and transportation.
World War II changed everything, including how things looked. Yet, as this exhibition’s co-curator, John Zukowsky (with Martha Thorne), writes in the catalog, “The contribution to the war effort by visual arts professionals . . . has been barely touched upon.” Curiously, we know more about Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, than about the work of the men featured here, including Bertrand Goldberg, Bruce Goff, Henry P. Glass and Richard Ten Eyck.