ArchiTech | Current Exhibit | Exhibition Archive | Artists | Address & e-mail | Frank Lloyd Wright | Press | Links

architectural art exhibition archive
beautiful mathematics, 20th century architectural elevations

Alfonso Iannelli and the Studios

January 3 - April 26, 2014 - Extended to July 26

Iannelli's design drawings from the beginnings of the Studios to his last ideas

Until recently, Alfonso Iannelli remained a fringe figure in scholarship about American design history. Today, that's changed to include his name among the first rank of Twentieth-Century designers.

Like Raymond Loewy and Norman Bel Geddes, Iannelli was a major figure in industrial design and he either worked alongside or knew architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Bruce Goff and Erich Mendelsohn or companies Sunbeam, Oster and Prudential. He also was one of the major sculptor/architects who created works for Chicago's World's Fair of 1933.

Even though Iannelli Studios in suburban Chicago's Park Ridge was a major company in the years before World War II, the name of Alfonso Iannelli was virtually forgotten after his death in 1965. But because his archives and remaining artworks were still considered important by a few historians, the Chicago Architecture Foundation saved the contents of his studio in Chicago's Glessner House on Prairie Avenue. There, they remained until they were acquired by a major art gallery and the upward climb of Iannelli's reputation today.

ArchiTech Gallery acquired the bulk of Iannelli's archives shortly after opening in Chicago's River North gallery district fifteen years ago. The gallery's director and owner, David Jameson, published "Alfonso Iannelli: Modern by Design," which helped cement Iannelli's reputation as the creator of sculptures, illustrations and architectural decorations as well as modern appliance design through the Twentieth Century.

ArchiTech Gallery exhibits these design and architecture works in a special show and sale of original material opening January 3rd and continuing through April 26th, 2014.

gallery installation

Notes on the exhibition:

Alfonso Iannelli and the Studios
January 3 - April 26, 2014

December 1st was my fifteenth anniversary. My Iannelli book finally came out during the last half of the year. It seemed fitting that Alfonso Iannelli would occupy my walls for the start of the new one.

The new Iannelli book has now shipped to all corners of the world and I've been hearing from those parts that they like what they've read. It seems that Iannelli is on a roll. The book is also on sale in the Frank Lloyd Wright bookstores so I suppose they've finally made peace.

Even the owner of the Midway Gardens photographs is raving about the book. His company bought the 1914 negatives and prints years back and they, along with memories by Wright and sculptors Bock and Iannelli are all that remain of the most famous collaboration of their careers. My job would appear to be done. But there was a little matter of mounting this show for the new year. Hence, "Alfonso Iannelli and the Studios."

The Iannelli Studios were founded in Los Angeles in 1912 with Iannelli's business partner, James Frederick Rudy, a stained glass maker and good friend Iannelli hoped would stay the distance. Alas, Rudy would die of the Spanish Flu in Chicago in 1918 and Iannelli's partnership would remain vacant until Ruth Blackwell was added to the letterhead when she began redecorating and designing houses in the late 1940s.

The collaborative nature of Iannelli's design talents and working method reached back as far as the Renaissance era design studios. He filled his Studios with brilliant artists like Margaret Spaulding, who he would later marry, Ruth Blackwell, Edgar Miller and Bruce Goff just to name a few.

That "collaboration" was the major reason Iannelli and Wright never worked together again. Wright would never credit another's design input, working as if he was creating his own universe. It apparently worked for his own legacy as his is the only name the general public seems to equate with the word "architect." But Frank Lloyd Wright and Alfonso Iannelli never worked together again from 1914 to the end of Wright's life in 1959.

Not that they didn't try. Wright asked Iannelli to do the sculpture for the 1916 Imperial Hotel project in Tokyo and Iannelli asked Wright for work in 1940 but the twain never met. Still, they remained civil and visited each other's studios.

This exhibition of design drawings is sort of a continuation of the major show last Summer in the Cultural Center downtown. Where that one focused on the love story between Alfonso and Margaret, and my new book placed Iannelli into the front ranks of design history, this ArchiTech Gallery show outlines the design process of the Studios in a more personal way, showing early sketches and ideas from the Los Angeles roots through the Chicago phase and finally to the Park Ridge studio decades.

His earliest drawing in this show is a 1912 figure study from the time he was first designing the sculptures of the "Workingman's Hotel" in San Diego. I'm displaying a huge stained glass cartoon of one of the windows of a 1924 church and a 1943 blueprint from his Encyclopaedia Britannica job in the Civic Opera Building.

Illustrations for magazines, sculptural relief designs for the 1933 Chicago World's Fair and appliance ideas form the rest of the exhibition. And of course, cleaned and framed will be one of the design ideas for the massive "Rock of Gibraltar" he carved on the wall of the tallest new Chicago building of 1955.

It would appear that Alfonso Iannelli wasn't forgotten after all!

February 2014 - "Alfonso Iannelli: 20th-Century Renaissance Man" in Metropolis Magazine

Click Here to Link to Alfonso Iannelli's Biography Page


click on image
to enlarge

Alfonson Iannelli
Office chair for Encyclopaedia Britannica (detail)
Cyanotype blueprint, 1943
20 1/4 x 32 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Preliminary design for memorial to George Rogers Clark (detail)
Graphite pencil on posterboard, circa 1931
18 1/2 x 14 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
stained glass window cartoon
St. Patrick's Church, Racine
Conté crayon on paper, circa 1924
104 x 31 1/2 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Preliminary design for Rock of Gibraltar relief (detail)
Prudential Building
Pencil and pastel on tissue, Circa 1954
34 x 26 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Preliminary design for Hupmobile Ad
Watercolor on tissue, 1926
5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Memorial design
Tempera and gold ink on poster board, circa 1925
(Possibly drawn for Art Institute of Chicago exhibition December, 1925)
14 x 8 1/2 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Advertising poster design for the Milo Cigarette Company
(Possibly Margaret Spaulding/Iannelli, renderer)
Colored paint and gold ink on photograph, Circa 1915
6 x 4 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Preliminary design for modernist mural
Pencil and tempera on artist board, Circa 1915
10 x 5 inches

Alfonson IannelliPreliminary design for Orpheum posters (detail)

(Full drawing: George Rosener, Morton & Moore, Sylvester Schaffer)
Pencil, tempera and gold ink on tissue, Circa May 1915
8 x 15 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Profiles of women and Child
Pencil on heavy card stock, Circa 1915
8 x 11 1/2 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Front Entrance Light for Red Oaks
Pencil, colored pencil and chalk on tissue, Circa 1928
12 x 10 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Sketch for (silo) highrise
Ballpoint pen on paper, Circa 1930
5 1/2 x 3 inches

Alfonson Iannelli
Trophy for National Safety Council Inc. (detail)
Pencil, colored pencil and watercolor on artist board, 194o
24 x 18 inches


iannelli bok cover

by David Jameson
July 2013 | Art/Architecture | 9.5″ x 11″
Hardcover | 384 pages | $80.00
ISBN 978-0-9852787-3-1

The first biography of the infuential modernist artist and sculptor includes more than 350 full-color plates.

Click Here to View Samples and Info

Click Link to Order:


David Jameson
ArchiTech Gallery
730 North Franklin suite 200
Chicago, IL 60654

Site designed by nanoSmith
© 2004-2014 ArchiTech Gallery