WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE BOOK
“Homeowners at a few apartment complexes in Chicago often compare notes about the artist Edgar Miller, who designed much of their interiors, but he is little remembered outside those walls. During his 1920s and ’30s heyday, developers hired him to fill four buildings on the North Side with Art Deco murals, woodcarvings, stained glass and metalwork. Dozens of units still have ceilings painted with crimson zigzags, leaping horses carved on staircase railings and mosaic saints inlaid on the walls.
On 400 varnished pages, pictures by the architectural photographer Alexander Vertikoff reveal multistory planes of windows with diamond-shaped colored panes, smudgy frescoes of jungles and ziggurat-shaped newel posts.”
“Edgar Miller (1899-1993) was an innovative master of dozens of disciplines and multiple styles. Believing that humankind should respect and learn from nature, he created supple animal and plant motifs, as well as human figures, for his intricate bas-reliefs, wood carvings, ceramics, stained-glass windows, murals, and tiles. He decried waste and so used recycled materials and transformed old buildings into exuberantly decorated architectural marvels. Phenomenally gifted and prolific, Miller was renowned, even legendary, and then he was forgotten, except by those who dwell in his wildly original homes.
Cahan and Williams, the team who resurrected the life and work of architectural photographer Richard Nickel, vividly recount Miller’s story of genius and audacity, from his Idaho youth to his meteoric rise in Chicago. Architectural photographer Alexander Vertikoff’s sharp and lustrous images elegantly capture the extraordinary details, rich colors, and profound connectivity of Miller’s spectacular creations. Miller’s fecund imagination, virtuosity, and epic energy produced vibrant architecture in which every element from ceiling to floor is alive with arabesque imagery, entwined patterns, and an aura of aspiration. Miller intended for each space to be a total work of art, the perfect description for this unique book.”
“Although Edgar Miller (1899-1993) designed and created interiors, exteriors, and ornamentation for buildings such as the North Dakota State Capitol in Bismarck and the Pierre Hotel in New York, most of his work was done in and around Chicago: murals for Marshall Field’s, the 885 Club, and the Northwest Air Ticket office; stone carvings for the Madonna della Strada Chapel; and much more. His greatest accomplishment, though, was the four fully realized artistic studios he built on Chicago’s North Side in the 1920s and 1930s. There he created environments that were “more a poem than a house, but admirable to live in, too.”
Verdict: This beautiful volume, by the authors of Richard Nickel’s Chicago: Photographs of a Lost City, is a singular, admirable tribute to a brilliant creative talent of the American Arts and Crafts movement who has been forgotten for far too long. Students and scholars—as well as librarians—may lament the lack of a full bibliography here (clearly much research was done), but readers interested in the Arts and Crafts movement, architecture, and architectural ornamentation will admire this book.”
“In a city bursting with pride over its architecture, it may defy logic that such a talent as Edgar Miller could be so overlooked, so absent from the lexicon of Chicago. This glorious book, with 400 color plates, celebrates Miller’s imagination.”
“Edgar Miller (1899-1993) was a “Renaissance man” because he was a painter and graphic designer who worked in wood, brick, stone, clay and glass. He was also very much an “Arts and Crafts man,” as he acknowledged in his writings and demonstrated in his use of basic, honest materials, and in his creation of a Chicago artist’s colony, whose buildings provide the visual focus for this book. Although well-known during his lifetime, Miller is largely forgotten today, because his work doesn’t hang in museums, but is the fabric of buildings.
This fine study—the first on Miller’s work—will surely rectify the situation. With 400 stunning photographs, it displays Miller’s progression from Arts and Crafts to Art Deco, in terms of both design and theory.”
“Long-time fans of the brilliant and versatile artist Edgar Miller (1899-1993) could approach the publication of this first-ever monograph with trepidation. Have no fear! Edgar Miller and the Handmade Home is a breathtaking document and a visual feast. Miller’s virtuosity extended itself to dozens of mediums from painting and printmaking to sculpture and art glass.
The authors have assembled a sweeping archive from a complex and fascinating life and Vertikoff’s sublime photography takes us inside all of the major interiors. It was our great luck that Miller applied his considerable gifts in Chicago. This highly anticipated monograph lives up to its subject in every way.”