The Architectural Image, 1920-1950: Prints, Drawings, and Paintings from a Private Collection

Featuring works by Howard Cook, Louis Lozowick, Charles Turzak, Jolan Gross-Bettelheim, and Grant Wood

—This fall, the National Building Museum presents an exhibition of 70 prints, original drawings, and paintings from one of the most fertile periods in architectural history, all drawn from the collection of David M. Schwarz, a prominent Washington, DC, architect. The Architectural Image, 1920-1950: Prints, Drawings, and Paintings from a Private Collection opens November 8, 2014 and runs through May 3, 2015.

Between 1920 and 1950, architecture changed more profoundly and more rapidly than during any similar timespan in history. At the beginning of the period, an ornate form of neoclassicism—closely associated with the venerable École des Beaux Arts in Paris—was still prevalent in the United States and much of Europe. But that tradition was soon challenged by the newly established Bauhaus school in Germany, which advocated functional design free of unnecessary ornament. By the end of the period, International Style modernism, which was largely based on Bauhaus principles, was by far the predominant force in architectural education and practice.

The changing tastes, theories, and obsessions of that era were often documented by prominent artists who found architecture and construction to be compelling subject matter. Some of these artists saw beauty in the inherent geometries of buildings, which they crisply captured via woodcuts or similar high-contrast media. Some celebrated the workers who built soaring skyscrapers or who toiled in modern factories. Others were simply fascinated by the burgeoning skylines and great works of infrastructure that distinguished the modern metropolis.

Included in the exhibition are works by such noteworthy artists as Howard Cook, Louis Lozowick, and Charles Turzak. Cook was one of the leading printmakers of the early to mid-twentieth century, and he often turned to buildings and cities for inspiration. His depictions of Art Deco-era skyscrapers were alternately majestic and ominous, powerfully capturing the impressive height and bulk of such structures. Lozowick created prints as well as paintings, including several beautifully composed oils of major American cities such as Cleveland and Minneapolis, which convey the complexity of urban form through bold geometric shapes. Turzak’s vibrant woodcuts and other prints, several of which pay homage to the workers who build and maintain the modern city, virtually burst with visual energy.

The remaining artists included in the exhibition are: James Allen, Hubert R. Bishop, Bernard Brussel-Smith, Cynthia Burnley, Henry R. Diamond, Mark Freeman, Gerald K. Geerlings, Leon Gilmour, Jolán Gross-Bettelheim, Ellison Hoover, Gene Kloss, Armin Landeck, Martin Lewis, Samuel Margolies, John Marin, William McNulty, J. Jay McVicker, Salvatore Pinto, Anton Schutz, Harry Shokler, Coreen Mary Spellman, Benton Spruance, A.C. Webb, John C. Wenrich, and Grant Wood. In addition, there are two drawings by the Soviet architect Iakov Chernikhov, a rendering by the design team of Iannelli & Pope, and an anonymous architectural rendering.

Collectively, the works in this exhibition reveal an enduring fascination with architectural and engineering imagery. Individually, they offer compelling glimpses into the artists’ personal impressions of the built environment during a turbulent period in history.

Press are invited to preview the exhibition in advance of the public opening on Friday, November 7, at 10:30 am EST. To register or for more information, contact Emma Filar, or 202.272.2448, ext. 3458. 

Media contact: Emma Filar,, 202.272.2448

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