Exhibition Catalog Now Available: Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio

Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio 

Edited by Amy Beste and Corinne Granof, 2018 – With contributions by Dan Bashara, Amy Beste, Greg D’Onofrio, Thomas Dyja, Corinne Granof, Justus Nieland, Talia Shabtay, Lynn Spigel and Andy Uhrich

Published by The Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University

ISBN: 978-1732568402 (softcover)

 210 pages; 137 color illustrations

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The Block Museum is pleased to announce the release of the exhibition companion publication Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio.  The book is the first to examine the work of the innovative Chicago-based design firm, Goldsholl Design Associates, its principals Morton and Millie Goldsholl, and their extensive impact on design and film nationally from the 1950s through the 1970s. The firm’s work for such companies as Motorola, Kimberly-Clark, Revlon, and 7-Up transformed the look of advertising and brought experimental modernism and Bauhaus styles to a broad American public. The book provides background to the Goldsholls’ training at the School of Design in Chicago and an overview of their innovative designs in print, film, branding, and advertising.


Inspired by the ideas and ideals of artist Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, with whom they had studied at Chicago’s School of Design, Morton and Millie Goldsholl fostered a culture of exploration and collaboration in their studio. The firm became known for its imaginative “designs-in-film,” applying avant-garde techniques to commercial productions. Its groundbreaking work in the new media of television helped redefine the look of everyday visual culture in mid-century America.

The trailblazing work of Goldsholl Design Associates remains an unexplored contribution within American design and advertising.  Published in conjunction with the exhibition of the same name at The Block Museum of Art, Northwestern University, this volume’s research explores how a new visual language emerged from Chicago’s cross-fertilization of avant-garde aesthetics, business, and cutting-edge media.  Intended as a complement to the themes of the exhibition the book contextualizes the Goldsholls’ work within graphic design, early television, Chicago’s film industry, and mid-century animation histories. It enhances the exhibition by considering the times in which the Goldsholls worked—a period of considerable transformation in American society and especially in advertising and American consumer culture.

“This text expands the fields of mid-century art and visual culture, graphic design, early television, animation, and film, within the framework of Chicago’s unique environment.” notes editor Corinne Granof.  “Themes within the book also include the Goldsholl firm’s unusual hiring practices. Their progressive approach coincided with a growing consciousness in American culture and key moments in 20th century American history, such as the Civil Rights movement, anti-Vietnam War protests, and the women’s movement.”



  • Director’s Foreword – Lisa G. Corrin
  • Acknowledgments – Lisa G. Corrin
  • Plugged into the City: Morton and Millie Goldsholl in Chicago  – Thomas Dyja
  • Good Design: Goldsholl Design Associates and Chicago’s School of Design in Mid-Century America  – Amy Beste
  • The Goldsholls: Eclectic Modern – Greg D’Onofrio
  • To Find Oneself an Explorer: Millie Goldsholl and the Early Years at the Studio – Corinne Granof
  • Designs for the Small Screen – Lynn Spigel
  • Audiences First, Buyers Second: Morton and Millie Goldsholl’s Design Approach to Business Films – Andy Uhrich
  • Seeing Under Things: Animation and the Expansion of Vision at the Goldsholl Studio – Dan Bashara
  • Goldsholl Vision: Systems of Display, Technologies of Design  – Talia Shabtay
  • Conference Technique: The Goldsholls and the Aspen Idea – Justus Nieland


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One thought on “Exhibition Catalog Now Available: Up is Down: Mid-Century Experiments in Advertising and Film at the Goldsholl Studio

  1. After seeing the announcements for “Up is Down” and signing up for the curator’s tour because of my interest in the graphic arts it dawned on me that I had met and worked with Morton Goldsholl back around 1992-93. In an earlier career, prior to coming to Northwestern, I worked as a commercial photographer in Chicago and was told of an upcoming cake packaging project that I would be working on with a designer from Goldsholl Design. This meant nothing out of the ordinary to me since I was unfamiliar with them, it was their first time in our studio and when the designer came in he was introduced to me as “Mort” and nothing more. I just assumed he was a staff designer and we got on with our work for the next 3 days or so. I remember him being very easy to get along with, receptive to everyone’s ideas and a pleasant client to be around for a multi day shoot. The packaging was for higher end cakes that were sold out of the refrigerator section in the grocery store, so there was no room here for anything too cutting edge since it was a conservative product marketed towards homemakers, etc. A different audience and market than say 7UP, or some of their other clients. None the less the design of the packages was classic and tastefully done and at the end of photography he was happy, his client was happy and we all went our separate ways. That was the only project I ever worked with the Goldsholls on and afterwards I always wondered how the firm (and Mort) were doing every time I passed by their office in Northfield while traveling on the Edens Expressway not knowing their history or reputation in the industry. So you can imagine my surprise after reading the Up is Down exhibit story that Mort was actually Morton Goldsholl, one of the principles of the firm (which he never let on to) and that he had this rich background as well as curiosity of the unknown. What I learned from the exhibit has added a special clarity to one of the hundreds of photo assignments during my 20 yr photography career and now 25 years later helps set it apart from the others.

    Tom O’Connell
    Northwestern University Library

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