The Testament of Stone: Themes of Idealism and Indignation from the Writings of Louis Sullivan

The Testament of Stone: Themes of Idealism and Indignation from the Writings of Louis Sullivan

The Testament of Stone: Themes of Idealism and Indignation from the Writings of Louis Sullivan

The Testament of Stone: Themes of Idealism and Indignation from the Writings of Louis Sullivan

Excerpt

Therefore the art of developing Democracy into a complete, complex yet simple working civilization is the one great art of expression confronting men today. It is the one art including all arts, all activities, individual and collective. It is in the development of the technique of such art that modern man is to concentrate his thought, bend his faculties, and exercise his superb powers as creator.

Louis Henri Sullivan (1856-1924), the Chicago architect who is generally regarded as the main source of modern architecture, composed during his lifetime a number of books, magazine articles, lectures, and poems in prose. Some of these are intimately related to his career as an architect; others are the expression of his alternative career, also abortive, as a philosopher and prophet of democracy.

These writings range from book-length manuscripts to brief talks and letters-to-the-editor, a thousand words or so in length. Some have never been printed, but remain in manuscript in the Burnham Library of the Art Institute of Chicago; others have not been put into book form, but can be found in old issues of architectural and building-trade magazines.

The reasons for now publishing a selection of these neglected works are several. There is a revival of interest in Sullivan's work and thinking, and this revival is likely to continue. But among his writings, some of the most detailed in expounding his thoughts on democracy, education, and other social and philosophical subjects, are the hardest to come by. For example, the highly characteristic "Natural Thinking: A Study In Democracy" remains -- except for sections included in this volume -- in manuscript. His comments . . .

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