Millard Sheets and Midcentury Modern Commercial Architecture
February 23, 2018 | 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm |
Noted historian Adam Arenson returns to Modernism Week for the launch of “Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture in California.” This is the first book-length study of Millard Sheets’s architectural commissions, including the marquee branches of Home Savings and Loan throughout California and beyond. Connecting Sheets’s work to precedents, including California world fairs and Rockefeller Center, it continues past the sale of Home Savings to Washington Mutual to explore the preservation challenges for this work today. It explores the workings of this “California Modern” studio that included not just architects and interior designers but painters, sculptors and stained-glass artists. Combining urban history, business history, and art and architectural history, “Banking on Beauty” considers the process by which they were created, the politics of where the branches were built and the choice of subjects in the artwork, including a switch from universal family scenes to vernacular histories of local communities. Based on more than seventy oral history interviews, archival research and site visits, and including more than 150 color images, this book explains why these landmark Midcentury Modern buildings deserve to be known before it is too late to save these remarkable works.