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Century of Progress International Exposition: Communications Court

Chicago, IL

Pool in courtyard

Spirits of Communication, 1933

Commissioned by: Raymond M. HoodMedium: glazed terra cotta tileExecuted by: Atlantic Terra Cotta CompanyNonextant

Hildreth Meière was connected to the Board of Design for the 1933 Century of Progress International Exposition through her work with two of its members—architects Ralph Walker and Raymond M. Hood. Walker had hired Meière to decorate the lobby of the AT&T Long Distance Building in Manhattan. She had worked with Hood at Rockefeller Center, where she had designed relief sculptures Dance, Drama and Song for the 50th Street facade of Radio City Music Hall, as well as Radio and Television Encompassing the Earth for the no-longer extant RKO Center Theatre.1

Hood’s design for the Communications Court was based on the plan of the Villa d’Este gardens in Rome, with a pool and fountain in the center. In her design for the floor of the Communications Court pool, Meière incorporated elements of Greek vase painting into her Art Deco-style rendering of male and female figures. They represented the Spirits of Communication encircling the globe.

Spirits of Communication at base of pool in Communications Court

Spirits of Communication at base of pool in Communications Court

Meière received a second commission at the Century of Progress International Exposition from the National Council of Women for their exhibit in the Hall of Social Sciences: a painted mural and frieze entitled Progress of Women, 1833-1933.

A third commission designed for sandblasted glass and intended for the Radio and Communication Building at the 1933 fair was never executed. A study for Mercury Gathering Air Waves Amidst Planets and Stars is now in the collection of the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York.

Design for Sand-Blasted Glass Mural: Mercury Gathering Air Waves Amidst Planets and Stars, 1932. Museum purchase from Drawings and Prints Council Fund. 2001-10-1. Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York

Design for Sand-Blasted Glass Mural: Mercury Gathering Air Waves Amidst Planets and Stars, 1932. Museum purchase from Drawings and Prints Council Fund. 2001-10-1. Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York

1

For a full discussion, see Catherine Coleman Brawer and Kathleen Murphy Skolnik, The Art Deco Murals of Hildreth Meière (New York: Andrea Monfried Editions, 2014): 180-81.

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