Advertising, Design and the Archive—Uncovering New Art Histories

Sponsored by The Block Museum at Northwestern
Recorded on 12/10/2019

Posted in Primary Sources and Special Collections


Mid-20th century America was home to an astonishing cross-fertilization of avant-garde aesthetics, business, and cutting-edge media, as innovative artists and designers produced trademarks, corporate identities, print advertisements, and television commercials for major corporate clients. Libraries, archives and special collections have become the primary repositories of these complex legacies that lie at the intersection of art, design, and media. How can library special collections support scholars and museums exploring the development of American visual culture?

Scholars and Curators Corinne Granof (Northwestern University, Block Museum) and Amy Beste (SAIC) will tackle this question through a discussion of the archival research and library loans that fostered the exhibition Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio. The exhibition examined the legacy of a trailblazing Chicago design firm that brought Bauhaus aesthetics to the American public with work for such clients as Motorola, Kimberly-Clark, Revlon, and 7-Up. The exhibition case study will offer a springboard for considering how library and museum partnerships can give voice to unexplored cultural histories.


  • Image of Amy Beste

    Amy Beste

    Director of Public ProgramsSchool of the Art Institute of Chicago

    Amy Beste is director of public programs and senior lecturer in the department of film, video, new media, and animation at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her publications include “Interview with Hannes Schüpbach” in Schüpbach (2015) and “Designers in Film: Goldsholl Associates, the Avant-Garde, and Mid-century Advertising Films” in Jacob and Baas (2012). She curates “Conversations at the Edge,” an ongoing series of screenings, talks, and performances by leading media artists at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Chicago. Beste received her PhD from Northwestern University.

  • Image of Corinne Granoff

    Corinne Granoff

    Academic CuratorBlue Museum of Art, Northwestern University

    Corinne Granof is Academic Curator at the Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University where she directs the museum’s curatorial initiatives involving students and faculty collaboration. Recently she has co-curated the exhibitions William Blake and the Age of Aquarius (2017) and A Feast of Astonishments: Charlotte Moorman and the Avant-Garde, 1960s-1980s (2016), and led the related companion publications with Northwestern University Press and Princeton University Press. Working with students and faculty, Granof has curated, co-curated, and collaborated on over 30 exhibitions and publications with the Block Museum, among them The Left Front: Radical Art in the “Red Decade,” 1929–1940 (2014); Design in the Age of Darwin: From William Morris to Frank Lloyd Wright (2008); From the Trenches to the Street: Art from Germany, 1910s-1920s (2007); Casting a Shadow: Creating the Alfred Hitchcock Film (2007); The Last Expression: Art and Auschwitz (2002).