Beaux-Arts Enjoyment in Madison and Chicago
September 11, 2022
If you’ve been reading this blog since September 2018, you’ve seen many photographs I’ve taken inside the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. (Look here and here and here.) Last month, visiting family in Madison, I made another pilgrimage to the building, hoping I could find something new to photograph or a new way to photograph something I’d seen on the other visits. This year we took the train as far as Chicago, and going inside the big old rooms of Union Station to catch the train home, I was surprised by details that recalled what I’d just photographed in Madison. I wondered if the same architect had designed both buildings, but no. George B. Post designed the Wisconsin capitol building, and Daniel Burnham designed Union Station. What I learned by Googling is that both architects worked in the Beaux-Arts tradition. So that is Beaux Arts. I had heard the term but never looked it up.
I took the photos in Union Station rushing to the train, and the exposures were not good, but I thought the comparisons worth showing.
1 This ornament at the tops of columns (I’m probably not using the right words) in the capitol building are not exactly Mr. Post’s original idea. What I take to be a speaker in this photo is a late addition, I think.
2 Here is an architectural detail in Union Station.
3 Barrel vaults abound in both buildings. This is the capitol.
5 One of the station’s barrel vaults can be seen more easily in this photograph.
6 I looked in vain through my photos of the capitol for one that showed scrolled brackets like these at the station. I was sure there must be some, but I couldn’t find them.
7 It was amusing to see touches of art deco in both buildings. This in the inside of a capitol elevator.
8 And here’s an art deco touch in the station. I couldn’t spend more time in the station; I might have found more parallels.
9 The sweeping arcs in the capitol never fail to charm me.
11 The murals are not painted but made of mosaic tiles.
12 You can see the individual tiles in this blow-up of the previous photograph.
16 In this photo, the figure and ground keep reversing for me even though I know perfectly well what is depicted.
17 Maybe I’ve finished photographing the Wisconsin State Capitol Building. But maybe not.