Price Tower Arts Offers 70 Years of Architectural Photography

FALLINGWATER HOUSE: This photo of the famous Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Fallingwater House by Bill Hedrich, 1937, Edgar Kaufmann House in Fallingwater Bear Run, Penn., is among the Hedrich Blessing Collection on display at the Price Arts Tower in Bartlesville.

Price Tower Arts Center, 510 Dewey Avenue, Bartlesville, is displaying the exhibition “Building Images: Seventy Years of Photography at Hedrich Blessing.” The exhibition opened June 3. Hedrich Blessing is the world’s most renowned group of architectural photographers. Founded in Chicago in 1929, Hedrich Blessing currently has two offices in the United States and 11 staff photographers. Hedrich Blessing photographers have photographed worldwide for leading architects, interior designers, hoteliers, graphic designers and furniture manufacturers.

The photographers of Hedrich Blessing are acclaimed for both the creative interpretation of their vision and their technical artistry. Beginning with Ken Hedrich, the photographers of Hedrich Blessing revolutionized the way buildings were seen. Instead of a straightforward recording of a three quarter view of the whole building or space, Hedrich Blessing photographers selected a vantage point where the design intent of the architect was revealed to its best advantage. Through insight and selection, the complexity of a three dimensional building was represented and reinterpreted into a photograph, where the part revealed more than the whole. This new vision of architecture became highly prized, and Hedrich Blessing photographers are now commissioned by and have close working relationships with some of the foremost architects and designers of our time.

The works of Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Albert Kahn, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Minoru Yamasaki, Holabird and Root, Ralph Johnson of Perkins and Will, C.W. Fentress, J. H Bradburn, Gensler and Associates, Krueck and Sexton, Richard Keating, Harry Weese, and Powell/Kleinschmidt, are all substantially known to the larger community through the photographs of Hedrich Blessing.

The high quality of craft and vision has been maintained throughout its 70-year history via apprenticeship. Each of the current 11 photographers served as an assistant to a photographer between two and eight years before going “on camera” themselves. These Hedrich Blessing photographers have been both long-lived and exceedingly prolific. In the 70 year history of the firm, there have been just 19 photographers performing over 55,000 assignments and producing well in excess of half a million images.

While the impact of Hedrich Blessing on the look and design of the built environment is difficult to quantify, it can be truthfully said that its influence has been dramatic. Most young architects and designers “know” more about American architecture and design though its interpretive presentation in photographs than they could ever know through personal experience. No other individual or firm has done more of this interpretation of architectural aesthetic facts and thus guided our knowledge of the built environment, than Hedrich Blessing.

In honor of the first 70 years of Hedrich Blessing and in recognition of its many accomplishments, “Building Images: Seventy Years of Photography at Hedrich Blessing,” has been curated from a much larger retrospective displayed at the Chicago Historical Society in 2000-01, organized in recognition of the Historical Society’s acquisition of the Hedrich Blessing archives. This collection now totals more than 300,000 prints and negatives and is one of CHS’s most prized and heavily used photographic collections. The Bartlesville exhibition is made possible in part by ConocoPhillips, the Oklahoma Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Exhibition Programming

A lecture on Photographing Art Deco will be given by Tulsa’s own David Halpern, one of the city’s most prominent photographers, who has published a book of the same title in 1980 and recently reissued it in 2001. The lecture will take place in the first floor gallery at 1 p.m. on July 10. Cost is $4 for museum admission; the lecture is free. Two summer art classes relating to photography will be offered in the Arts Center Annex. Michael DeRosa, Art Director at Coffeyville Community College, will explain Cyanotype photography, or photography developed by the sun, on July 2. All supplies are provided for the art classes. Cost is $15 per person.

About Price Tower Arts Center
The landmark destination for art, architecture and design, Price Tower Arts Center provides local, regional and global audiences with the experience of great art, architecture and design in an arts complex whose centerpiece is Frank Lloyd Wright’s only skyscraper, the Price Tower.

This international landmark contains permanent and changing exhibition galleries; original Wright interiors (available by tour); and The Wright Place museum store.

Visitors may also experience Wright’s masterpiece as guests of Inn at Price Tower, a 21-room high-design hotel that the Arts Center has created within Wright’s skyscraper, along with the Inn’s elegant Copper Restaurant and Bar.

Admission to museum exhibitions is $4 for adults and $3 for seniors and is free for students 16 and under. For more information, the public may call 918-336-4949 or visit the web site at

Updated 06-30-2005

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