Knud Lonberg-Holm (American, born Denmark, 1895–1972)
Gelatin silver print
10.3 x 7.8 cm (4 1/16 x 3 1/16 in.)
Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2000
Not on view
Although the Danish-born architect Knud Lonberg-Holm is relatively unknown as a photographer, his revolutionary images of American cities in the mid-1920s were profoundly influential to the generation of avant-garde photographers active between the two World Wars. This extraordinary night view of the Thomas Cusack Company Building on New York's Madison Square was reproduced in a section of Erich Mendelsohn's landmark book Amerika entitled "World Center—Money Center." Built in 1919 by the young modernist architect Ely Jacques Kahn for a firm specializing in outdoor advertising, the six story building was designed with a façade that allowed for bands of signage beneath the windows and was surmounted by a massive signboard bearing the Cusack Company name. In Lonberg-Holm's futuristic view, floodlights transform the entire structure into a glowing billboard framed by the soft white orb of a streetlight and a diagonal stream of headlights. The effect is otherworldly, recalling the fantastical set designs for Fritz Lang's film Metropolis (1929) and presenting the new American city as an ethereal utopia founded in commerce and existing entirely of light and energy.
Inscription: Stamped in purple ink, verso TR: "A 42"