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The original ‘Italian Street-Painters’
I recently came in possession of around 30 photographic negatives and press photos, of what I assume, is the first large-scale use of street pavement art as a promotional tool. Certainly the first I’ve come across.
The romance and reality of Italy, was the theme of Carson, Pirie, Scott & Company’s 17th annual import fair. It ran between the 31st October and the 12th November 1977. It took over thirty artists from the Milan Bulovic Art Company, Chicago USA, to create this massive Italianate walkway. The floor painting wrapped around the company’s main store building on the State Street and Madison Street sidewalks. It was designed to resemble a marbleised Italian walkway, reminiscent of those found in 15th Century Italy.
Artists, (all from Chicago) used sign-writing and decorating techniques to create marbling effects on the pavement. Mostly done using acrylic paints, it was designed to last no more than a month or so.
Most of the photos here where never published, they were taken by the Chicago Daily News photographer, Don Bierman, on the 27th October 1977, a few days before the trade fair launch.
The historic Carson, Pirie, Scott and Company Building was designed by Louis Sullivan, built in 1899 for the retail firm Schlesinger & Mayer, and expanded and sold to Carson Pirie Scott in 1904. The building, located on State Street in Chicago’s Loop, housed the chain’s flagship store for more than a century before closing for good on February 21, 2007.
Researched and written by Philip Battle