- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: CityFiles Press (October 1, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0978545028
- ISBN-13: 978-0978545024
- Product Dimensions: 10.1 x 0.9 x 10.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 8 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,147,255 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Richard Nickel's Chicago: Photographs of a Lost City Hardcover – October 1, 2008
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*Starred Review* In They All Fall Down: Richard Nickel's Struggle to Save America's Architecture (1994), Cahan presented an eloquent biography of Chicago photographer and pioneering architectural preservationist Richard Nickel (1928-72). Nickel devoted himself to photographing the works of world-renowned architect Louis Sullivan, a mission that turned macabre as one revolutionary building after another was wantonly demolished, and Nickel died in the wreckage of Sullivan's once-magnificent Stock Exchange Building. Cahan and coauthor Williams now present a stunning and heart-wrenching collection of 200 never-before-seen photographs by a man of vision and conviction. A student of Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind, Nickel shot covertly prayerful street scenes and portraits. These unexpected gems are followed by a unique and disquieting collection: Nickel's brilliantly composed, extraordinarily detailed, and grandly dimensional photographs of what should have been landmark buildings, pictured both whole and in ruins. Thanks to Cahan and Williams, the losses Nickel so precisely documented are balanced by Nickel's recovered and profoundly evocative photographs, works that testify to the need for preservation, and stand as works of art embodying an elegiac beauty. Donna Seaman
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Regrettably, Chicago's political leaders, including Mayor Richard J. Daley, and the leaders of the city's building and trade unions wanted the jobs and dollars generated by demolition of existing buildings and the employment and prosperity promised by authorizing new construction projects. Nickel waged a lonely and futile battle as he petitioned the city to preserve and protect historic landmark buildings.
Nickel painstakingly photographed many of the buildings designed by the architectural firm of Adler & Sullivan. He took great care to document Sullivan's ornate design details. Sometimes, Nickel had no sooner developed his film than the residences, office buildings and theaters in his pictures were scheduled to face the wrecking ball.
Nickel lost his own life while he was inside the shell of the once magnificent Stock Exchange Building and the partially demolished building collapsed. Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan were two of the most eminent architects in Chicago history, but time and urban change doomed many of their buildings. Only a handful of their buildings survived the turbulent Sixties. Sullivan was nearly forgotten by the time of his death and his friends had to raise funds to provide him with a proper burial and a cemetery monument.
This is a beautiful book that is lavishly illustrated with photographs. The author incorporated many of Nickel's own notes into the text. Chicago belatedly created a historic landmark commission after many of the most deserving buildings were bulldozed.
All together, a melancholy delight of Modernist photography.