TRIBUNE TOWER. Sculpture and Architecture

Sculptor, Rene Paul Chambellan, and Architects Raymond Hood and John Howells made a remarkable team at Tribune Tower. (And again at Rockefeller Center.)

Who can say where Architecture ends and Sculpture begins?

TRIBUNE TOWER. Rene Paul Chambellan. Grotesque


So. What's not to like?

It seems that there are multiple stories describing what each of these grotesques mean, and their significance to the "Colonel" and the Chicago Tribune. But even Blair Kamin's book "Tribune Tower" is incomplete.

What is this guy's story? Who is he? Any ideas?


Isak Dinesen, in her essay "Daguerreotypes" makes an interesting reference to our relationship with the past. Generally summarizing (and I recommend a direct "read") she explains that people over the age of 50 who were lucky enough to have contact with people over the age of 50 during their childhood and youth have direct knowledge of the world of 100 years ago from people who saw it.

Direct knowledge.

For me, that means stories from Indiana farmers who followed the railroad north from the Ohio River Valley about trips to Chicago at the turn of the Century. For Bob Perrone, it means first hand knowledge of the remarkable career of his grandfather, Rene Paul Chambellan. Bob left a comment on my post of August 26, 2009. And that communication has given me a most welcomed, first hand connection to the Sculpture of Tribune Tower.

Today was a remarkably warm, sunny September day. Tourists (lots of them, swarms of them) on north Michigan Avenue, guidebooks in hand, were touching the stones embedded in the stone walls of the Tribune Building. (The Parthenon. The Colosseum.) And then looking up to Aesop's screen, and above, those oddly inspired figures of "Rumor" and "News".

The reaction of each tourist was the same. First, eyes wide, amazed. And second, a huge smile brought with the discovery that "humor" could be a part of the architecture of "the most beautiful building in the world." We need to remember to thank the "Frog."

LONDON GUARANTEE. The Fort Dearborn Commemorative

Alfred Alschuler's London Guarantee Building, 360 North Michigan Avenue, is an excellent example of Chicago's neo-classic architecture. Constructed in 1923, it is covered with detail and ornament. So much so that it is easy to over look the panel commemorating the site of Fort Dearborn at the corner of Michigan and Wacker. The panel is nearly three stories above the ground -- where the richness of detail can be seen ONLY WITH BINOCULARS.

Who would have guessed that the Settler and the Indian standing on either side of the Fort could have such clear and expressive faces. The Indian certainly seems more confident than the Settler. Let's date this confidence to the evening of August 14, 1812: the night before the famous Massacre.


Lorado Taft created the maquette (left) for Chief Black Hawk at the Eagle's Nest. The finished work, dated 1911, (right) stands nearly 50 feet tall, overlooking the valley from 125 feet above the Rock River's edge