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Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture in California (Hardback)
  • Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture in California (Hardback)

Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture in California (Hardback)

Hardback 368 Pages / Published: 07/02/2018
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Winner, Docomomo US Modernism in America Citation of Merit, 2018
Winner, PROSE Award, Architecture and Urban Planning ,Association of American Publishers (AAP), 2019

"I want buildings that will be exciting seventy-five years from now," financier Howard Ahmanson told visual artist Millard Sheets, offering him complete control of design, subject, decoration, and budget for his Home Savings and Loan branch offices. The partnership between Home Savings-for decades, the nation's largest savings and loan-and the Millard Sheets Studio produced more than 160 buildings in California, Texas, Florida, New York, Ohio, Illinois, and Missouri over the course of a quarter century. Adorned with murals, mosaics, stained glass, and sculptures, the Home Savings (and Savings of America) branches displayed a celebratory vision of community history and community values that garnered widespread acclaim.

Banking on Beauty presents the first history of this remarkable building program. Drawing extensively on archival materials, site visits, and oral history interviews, Adam Arenson tells a fascinating story of how the architecture and art were created, the politics of where the branches were built, and why the Sheets Studio switched from portraying universal family scenes to celebrating local history amid the dramatic cultural and political changes of the 1960s. Combining urban history, business history, and art and architectural history, Banking on Beauty reveals how these institutions shaped the corporate and cultural landscapes of Southern California, where many of the branches were located. Richly illustrated and beautifully written, Banking on Beauty builds a convincing case for preserving these outstanding examples of Midcentury Modern architecture, which currently face an uncertain future.

Publisher: University of Texas Press
ISBN: 9781477315293
Number of pages: 368
Weight: 1616 g
Dimensions: 254 x 203 mm

"Lovers of California art and architecture will swoon at the photos of the murals, statues and mosaics that Sheets designed for about 200 Home Savings and Loan branches between the 1960s and 1980s. . . . Banking on Beauty invites readers to remember a time when our captains of industry cared about public spaces as much as they did the bottom line - and it also challenges us to preserve those remaining buildings that possess Sheets originals." * Los Angeles Times *
"Once upon a time, a visit to a department store or a branch bank was a chance to be inspired by fine art...waves of corporate takeovers doomed most of the art, but some remain, like the 1968 masterpiece at Sunset and Vine that's now a Chase bank. This richly illustrated book finally tells their story." * Los Angeles Magazine *
"[L]avishly illustrated...If you'd like to explore [Millard Sheets's art] yourself, you won't find a better guide than Arenson's Banking on Beauty."" * The Objective Standard *
"Banking on Beauty...shows that commercial architecture does not have to be drab." * World Magazine *
"Arenson alternates between telling the story of, on the one hand, [Howard F.] Ahmanson and the growth of his savings and loan business, and, on the other hand, [Millard] Sheets and the development of his artistic practice, to great effect." * Journal of Urban History *

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