Sunday, March 20, 2011

Hugh Ferriss and The Metropolis of Tomorrow

A couple years ago Dwell had a small article about the American architect and delineator, Hugh Ferriss. His drawings in the 1929 book The Metropolis of Tomorrow were absolutely stunning. I am a huge fan of the 1927 Fritz Lang silent movie, Metropolis. Yes, it is 3 hours long, but 3 visually interesting hours. Ferriss' drawings would be at home with the visual landscape created by Lang.

Even though Ferriss was an architect by training, he is not remembered for his buildings. Rather, it is his ethereal drawings of New York and "the future" that sealed his place in history. His drawings are mostly of buildings at night and he cast the buildings in shadow, giving it a sense of mystery. Ferriss' work appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, Harper's and Vanity Fair. Ferris' drawings and papers are housed at the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University.

So why am I blathering on about this guy? Well, after reading the Dwell article I started poking around on the Internet about getting a copy of The Metropolis of Tomorrow, his seminal work. Specifically, a first edition of the book. A cheap paper reproduction would not do. Well, most of the first editions on Amazon and other sites were in the $200.00+ range. Not too expensive but a bit more than I wanted to pay for a book. The Architect and I have a lot of books, but we are not collectors of first edition books. I added this book to the bucket list of furniture and items I wanted to add to our home. Someday I may post my MCM bucket list.

Then lo and behold I happened to be browsing around on eBay and scored a first edition of The Metropolis of Tomorrow. FOR SEVENTY BUCKS. Thank god for eBay. This eBay score turned into a very nice birthday present for the Architect.

I'm not the only fan of Hugh Ferriss. The Oxford, England band A Silent Film used Ferriss' illustrations for the cover of their album The City That Sleeps. By the way, that album rocks.

Read about the top things to know about Hugh Ferriss here.

Browse through selected images from the Avery Library here.

Image from the Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University. Sources: Wikipedia, Dwell, Avery Library at Columbia University.

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