Artwork of the Week: March 21

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Louis Sullivan (American, 1856–1924), architect; George Grant Elmslie (American, born Scotland, 1871–1952), designer, Bank Teller’s Wicket, copper-coated cast iron, 1907–1908. 41 x 23 in. Gallery 3

Louis Sullivan (American, 1856–1924), architect; George Grant Elmslie (American, born Scotland, 1871–1952), designer, Bank Teller’s Wicket, copper-coated cast iron, 1907–1908. 41 x 23 in. Gallery 3

The American architect, Louis Sullivan, and his chief draftsman, George Elmslie, designed both the structure and the ornamentation of the National Farmer’s Bank in Owatonna, Minnesota, where this wicket was installed. Originally one of eight in the bank, this wicket would have framed the teller’s face and provided a barrier between the teller and the public as they interacted. The swirling foliage design was carried throughout the bank, because Sullivan believed that ornament was a metaphor for the inner vitality and function of a building. The fanciful and intricate leaves and plants covering the wicket would have suggested for Sullivan a lively space busy with activity and business transactions.


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