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Poster

  • Place of origin:

    Chicago (printed)

  • Date:

    1933 (printed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Pursell, Weimer, born 1906 - died 1974 (designer)
    Neely Printing Company (printer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Lithograph

  • Credit Line:

    Purchase funded by V&A Members

  • Museum number:

    E.374-2017

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2F, shelf DR85

The 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair, dubbed the ‘Century of Progress’, was a celebration of the centenary of the city’s founding. Intended to demonstrate the progress of humanity through scientific technology, the fair’s central aim was to lift the Chicago out of the depths of the Great Depression by encouraging collaboration between governments, scientists and industries. The fair presented new technology both in its exhibits and, crucially, through its architecture – all of the buildings demonstrated modern construction techniques and materials. These huge and quickly-erected prefabricated palaces were intended to impress on visitors the scale and potential of the US building industry.

This poster highlights the importance of architecture to the fair, focussing on five of its most prominent buildings. The main illustration is of the Hall of Science – the centrepiece of the 1933 fair, designed by classically-trained architect Paul Cret (1876-1945). The Hall of Science was based around the quintessentially American form of the skyscraper, and it is this very contemporary feature of the design that Pursell highlights. The four other buildings illustrated at the bottom of the poster emphasise the overall scale of construction (as well as the use of contemporary, streamlined forms). These buildings are, left to right, the Federal Building, the Electrical Building, the Travel and Transport Building, and the Agricultural Building.

Physical description

Poster, printed in bright block colours (predominantly yellow, blue, orange and green) and simple streamlined forms. It depicts the Hall of Science at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair - a huge building with a towering structure resembling a skyscraper. A broad staircase and terraces lead up to the building. Groups of figures are depicted in font of the building and on the terraces. Four of the Fair's other buildings are depicted along the lower edge of the poster including, from left to right, the Federal Building, the Electrical Building, the Travel and Transport Building, and the Agricultural Building.

Place of Origin

Chicago (printed)

Date

1933 (printed)

Artist/maker

Pursell, Weimer, born 1906 - died 1974 (designer)
Neely Printing Company (printer)

Materials and Techniques

Lithograph

Marks and inscriptions

CHICAGO / WORLD'S / FAIR / MAY 27th / NOV.1st

1833 A CENTURY OF PROGRESS 1933

WEIMER / PURSELL

NEELY PRINTING CO.

Dimensions

Height: 1057 mm, Width: 670 mm

Object history note

This is one of five posters designed by Weimer Pursell (1906-1974) for the 1933-34 Chicago World’s Fair. Pursell, who had studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, was a prominent American illustrator of 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. He worked extensively in advertising, and also designed a number of (now famous) World War II propaganda posters.

Descriptive line

Poster, advertising the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair, designed by Weimer Pursell, printed by Neely Printing Co., lithograph, Chicago, 1933

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Wilk, Christopher. Plywood: A Material Story. London: Thames & Hudson / V&A, 2017

Labels and date

Text from Plywood: Material of the Modern World (15 July-12 November 2017)

CHICAGO ‘CENTURY OF PROGRESS’
EXHIBITION
1933–34

Buildings at the 1933 Chicago world’s
fair were intended to showcase new
materials, construction techniques
and a contemporary style of American
architecture representing an optimistic
break from the Depression. The Hall of
Science (seen here), with its giant tower
in the form of a skyscraper, was the first
building to be constructed at the fair.
It was clad entirely in plywood, which
at that time was the cheapest board
material available. Decorative geometric
perforations cut into the plywood surfaces
were outlined in fluorescent lights.

POSTER
1933
Designed by Weimer Pursell (1906–74)
Printed by Neely Printing Company
Chicago, USA
Offset lithograph
V&A: E.374-2017

THE HALL OF SCIENCE UNDER
CONSTRUCTION, WITH DETAIL OF PLYWOOD
PERFORATIONS IN FAÇADE
1932
Hall of Science designed by Paul Cret (1876–1945)
Chicago, USA
Reproduced by permission of Century of Progress
Records, 1927–52
University of Illinois at Chicago Library [2017]

Materials

Paper; Ink

Techniques

Lithography

Subjects depicted

World's fair; Architecture

Categories

Posters; Prints; Fairs; Architecture; Entertainment & Leisure; Ephemera

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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