Oct 27

The Market for This Book

As part of the effort to find the right publisher for the Field Guide, we’re identifying potential markets and channels for the book in the real world. The market has a practical bearing on the scope and content we’ll be able to include. These are our results so far — this is an ongoing effort.

If you’re an individual interested in the book, please take a moment to send us an email at kvaranandlockley (a t) gmail.com and express your interest. We’d appreciate your message.

12 Greco Deco use

Universities, university libraries, students, other scholarly markets

This Field Guide is the first-ever survey of its kind, academically important, with the intention of becoming the standard reference.

Our book documents an architectural and cultural phenomenon in the United States. This body of work is significant in itself for the artistic quality of the sculpture, for the well-known architects and sculptors involved and its pattern of long-term collaborations. It chronicles the daunting aesthetic and practical challenges of integrating sculpture and architecture successfully, reveals the sheer size of the industry at its zenith and follows its stylistic evolution from imitation of European models in the 1870s to a truly American art form by the 1920s.

The phenomenon is even more important to explore and understand because it contradicts the prevalent belief about American architecture before Modernism — namely, that all “ornament” was unnecessary and vaguely distasteful, and that only the precursors of the Modernist tradition like Wright and Sullivan are worth our attention.

This attitude about ornament was taught for decades and, unfortunately, it persists.

The Guide will catalog the power, sophistication and beauty of architectural sculpture in a way that can’t be argued away. We want the book to inform the ongoing debate about the legacy of Modernism and Postmodernism, without getting tangled in the terms of that debate. That’s what will make the Field Guide relevant and suitable as a textbook.

 Iannelli at Woodbury CCH

Architectural Tourism

Architectural tourism is already a healthy and well-defined market with permanent retail shops in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, and growing into a significant market in other cities from Pittsburgh to Tulsa to Seattle.

For interested individuals, the value of the Field Guide in planning trips and exploring history is obvious.

For tour operators, the Field Guide will be useful to identify local buildings worth talking about, and to fill out narratives of local buildings they already talk about — for instance, connecting Hermon MacNeil’s bronze Native Americans in the Marquette Building in Chicago with his marriage to a White Rabbit, and the high point of his career, the pediment at the Supreme Court Building. This book will tend to build business for those operators, and they are potential marketing partners.

A considerable number of the buildings in our survey have gift shops of their own: the Biltmore in Asheville, Rockefeller Center, 19 state capitols, 19 colleges and universities, and 27 museums, just as a quick tally. These 67 retail outlets are all likely to carry the book.

Preservationists

Closely related to architectural tourism are the state and local organizations and national interest groups for historic preservation. The Field Guide will help them assess their local resources and help their advocacy efforts. These organizations include the American Institute for Conservation, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the American Institute of Architects, ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites), the Society of Architectural Historians, and others.

Frank Lloyd Wright

The Field Guide addresses an overlooked and fascinating chapter in FLW’s long career, a chapter that touches on his mysterious European tour with Mamah Cheney, one of the few cases where FLW admitted an influence (from the German sculptor Franz Metzner), one of the very few periods where FLW credited a collaborator as an equal (with the American sculptor Richard Bock) and integrated the human figure in seven of his buildings.

That number includes the razed Midway Gardens project in Chicago, source of the famous Sprites, which are exactly what they look like: an experimental attempt to reduce the human figure to geometric solids, and therefore reconcile human shape and architectural shape.

There’s already a significant and reachable number of fans with an interest in Frank Lloyd Wright.

Sculptors and Collectors

One of the buildings in our book, the Barclay-Vesey Building in Lower Manhattan, designed by architect Ralph Walker in 1926, was heavily damaged in the attacks of 9/11. Walker had developed a unique ornamental vocabulary, and sculptor Ulysses Ricci executed it in Indiana limestone. Modern stoneworkers and the Petrillo Stone Company of Mount Vernon New York have carefully recreated Ricci’s stone work.

The numbers of these artisans are relatively small, but there is a market segment of modern stoneworkers, heritage companies like Gladding McBean, architectural offices, and sculptors who will look to the book as a sort of catalog or pattern book. Most of the sculptors in the Field Guide were members of the National Sculpture Society, an organization with a natural interest in the book. They may also be willing to engage in cooperative marketing.

More numerous are collectors who may own standalone pieces by Donal Hord or Lawrence Tenney Stevens, say. Those pieces will possibly increase in value with increased attention, understanding and publicity brought to these lesser-known artists.This may overstate our influence, it sounds a bit of a long shot, but on the other hand it’s possible that the increased value brought to a single piece of artwork might exceed the entire budget of this book. Owners of work by the sculptors represented in our book comprise another interested audience and potential market.