As with the forces of nature that inspired him, architect Louis H. Sullivan's work is about all parts relating to the whole. We celebrate Sullivan's revolutionary philosophies and contributions to modern architecture.
Interesting Facts About Louis Sullivan
Sullivan’s Transportation Building, designed for the World’s Columbian Exposition held in Chicago in 1893, was unique amongst the other buildings in the fair’s “White City.” The structure was the only building decorated with a multicolor façade.
In 1946, the American Institute of Architects awarded the architect its Gold Medal.
Frank Lloyd Wright worked as an apprentice to Sullivan at the Adler and Sullivan firm for six years prior to a quarrel in 1893 that stunted their friendship until 1914. Wright often acknowledged the impact Sullivan had in shaping his work.
"The Gilded Entrance to the Transportation Building." Architect Louis Sullivan. Color plate by Charles S. Graham from The World's Fair in Water Colors. Image from The Field Museum Library @Flicker Commons.
The building's identity resides in the ornament.
Louis H. Sullivan
Auction Results Louis Sullivan
rare Radiator Screen from Cyrus Hall McCormick House, Chicago
medallion for the Carson, Pirie, Scott Building, Chicago
Baluster from the Schlesinger and Mayer Department Store, Chicago
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Louis Sullivan 1856–1924
Louis H. Sullivan, born in 1856, became known as the “Father of Skyscrapers” for his contributions to the modern Chicago skyline. He began his architectural training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and apprenticed as a draftsman for the Boston architect Frank Furness, but was soon drawn to Chicago’s building boom and moved to the city with his family in 1873.
After returning from study at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris, Sullivan was hired by Chicago-based architect Dankmar Adler as a draftsman in 1879. Deeply impressed with the creative designs of Sullivan, Adler made him a full-time partner in 1881. It was this partnership that created some of the most pioneering and prolific buildings in Chicago including the Wainwright Building, the Schiller Building, the Auditorium Building, and the James Charnley House. However, it was the Chicago Stock Exchange, built at the height of the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, which was undoubtedly the magnum opus of the pair. The interior of the building was decorated with lavish organic designs inspired by the flora of the prairie landscape—later influencing apprentice and protégé Frank Lloyd Wright.
Although the partnership ended in 1895, the duo invented a uniquely Midwestern style of Art Nouveau. Adler and Sullivan forever changed the architectural scene of Chicago with the 180 buildings they designed together during the 15-year period of their partnership. Following the decline of their practice, Sullivan faced financial issues that hindered the progression of his career, but his monumental impact on the history of American architecture is undeniable.