“A tale of two stories is taking center stage at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum.
“A new exhibition, ‘Capturing Louis Sullivan: What Richard Nickel Saw,’ explores the work of architect Louis Sullivan and a photographer on a literal life’s mission to capture his impact.
“‘We’re moving both narratives forward throughout the whole exhibition,’ said guest curator David Hanks. ‘It’s like an opera. The music goes forward, and then the drama. So we have two stories we’re trying to tell.’
“It’s a story of an architect and photographer. Two artists connected through their work, but never in life. Born four years after Sullivan’s death, Nickel was committed to documenting Sullivan’s architecture, as both a photographer and preservationist. It was a decision he made when learning about the architect while a student at the IIT Institute of Design.
“‘Richard Nickel was trying to record the buildings, one through taking photographs of them, and then second by salvaging architecture ornament. The ornament was important to Sullivan’s idea of adding beauty and aesthetic dimension to his houses,’ Hanks said. ‘So the exhibition is not only photographs that Nickel took, but also the artifacts that he salvaged.’
“Chicago buildings created by Sullivan, and his partner David Adler, were being destroyed in the 1960’s and 70’s. A preservationist, Nickel saw it his duty to document everything from behind the lens.
“‘He was a documentary photographer, and told it as it was, warts and all,’ Hanks said. ‘He showed the building in a documentary fashion, not to make them the most beautiful but to document to show the buildings.’ (Idowu, WTTW Chicago, 8/29/22)