SPRINGFIELD – Frank Lloyd Wright and his fellow architects dominated the list of Top Illinois Artists and Architects as chosen by voters in the Illinois Top 200 project. All four nominated architects made the top 10, reflecting the state’s leading role in building design for more than 150 years.
Wright, the most famous architect in history, was joined in the top 10 by Louis Sullivan, the “father of skyscrapers”; Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, a leader in the “less is more” approach, and Bertrand Goldberg, who favored mixed-use buildings with organic shapes.
Voters also favored sculptors, putting three of them in the top 10. The highest-ranking sculptor was Lorado Taft, who produced monumental works like “The Eternal Indian” (also known as the Black Hawk Statue) in Ogle County and the “Fountain of Time” in Chicago.
“Over the past 200 years, Illinoisans have changed the world of art and architecture,” said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “The visionaries recognized in this category show the amazing breadth and depth of our state’s artistic heritage.
The Illinois Top 200 project lets Illinoisans vote every two weeks on the most inspiring leaders, greatest inventions, top businesses and much more. By the state’s 200th birthday on Dec. 3, voters will have chosen 10 favorites in 20 different categories – the Illinois Top 200.
Voting in the next category, top actors, is underway at www.IllinoisTop200.com. The nominees include Marlon Brando, Dick van Dyke, Frances McDormand and Andre Braugher.
Here are the top 10 Illinois artists and architects chosen in online voting:
- Frank Lloyd Wright – The Chicago-based architect achieved worldwide fame for his “prairie school” of design and an emphasis on harmony between buildings and the environment.
- Lorado Taft – A lifelong Illinois resident, Taft was a renowned sculptor who is probably best known today for the 50-foot-tall “Eternal Indian” statue near Oregon, Ill., and the Alma Mater statue at the University of Illinois.
- Louis Sullivan – Sullivan was the “father of skyscrapers” who popularized the architecture philosophy that form follows function. He helped develop the first Chicago School of architecture, a style of steel-frame buildings clad in masonry.
- Mies van der Rohe – After a successful career in Germany, Mies fled the Nazis and moved to Chicago, where he pioneered the “less is more” approach. He emphasized modern materials, straight lines and minimal ornamentation.
- Olof Krans – In middle age, with no training, Krans began painting his memories of childhood in the little religious community of Bishop Hills. His stiff figures, telling details and vivid colors give a dreamlike quality to his paintings.
- Preston Jackson – Jackson is best known for bronze and steel sculptures that explore moments in history. A Decatur native, his subjects include Martin Luther King, Richard Pryor and Springfield’s 1908 race riot.
- Bertrand Goldberg – In an era when Chicago was dominated by boxy, muscular buildings, Goldberg embraced flowing curves. He is best known for Marina City, two towers on the Chicago River that resemble corn cobs.
- Theaster Gates – Gates is a painter, sculptor, potter and teacher. He is also an urban planner using art to revitalize a decaying neighborhood in his native Chicago.
- Vivian Maier – Maier spent 40 years photographing the streets of Chicago, New York and Los Angeles. Yet she kept those photos private during her life. It was only after Maier’s death that her work was discovered.
- Kerry James Marshall – Marshall is known for large-scale paintings and sculptures that focus on African-American life and history, often in ordinary, everyday settings – a park, a housing project, a living room.
“From folk art to ‘the father of skyscrapers’ to some of today’s leading contemporary artists, this top 10 list hits all the right notes showcasing a diverse range of creative innovators from Illinois,” said Robert Sill, interim director and art curator for the Illinois State Museum.
Nominees who did not make the top 10 include photographers Edward Weston and Barbara Cane, outsider artist Henry Darger, painter Ray Yoshida and surrealist Dorothea Tanning.
The Illinois Top 200 is a joint initiative of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, The (Springfield) State Journal-Register and the Illinois Bicentennial Commission.
Future categories include athletes, trailblazing women and unforgettable moments. Everyone is invited to suggest possible nominees in each category by using the hashtag #ILtop200 on social media.
The presidential library and museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. Visitors can see ghosts come to life on stage, watch TV coverage of the 1860 Presidential election, roam through the Lincoln White House, experience booming cannons in a Civil War battle and come face to face with priceless original Lincoln artifacts.
The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.