Stray Light

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When the Johnson Publishing Company, best known for Jet and Ebony, moved into its iconic building on Michigan Avenue, the structure symbolized a bold entry into both the Chicago skyline and the city's cultural environment. This emblematic building was the first in Chicago designed and owned by African Americans, a modernist masterpiece that in 1980 theWashington Post called, "practically a monument--sometimes an ostentatious one--to black success."

David Hartt was given unprecedented access to the building, much of which retains its '70s design, from bright gold accents to vintage see-through furniture. His resulting photographs take viewers on a rich and revealing tour. They capture the distinct physical characteristics while also illuminating the power structures and ideological purposes they once represented. Hartt's collection also serves as an unexpected final documentation. Not long after Hartt captured these images, the Johnson Publishing Company announced it was selling its building and moving north. Stray Light is a time capsule of a historic building that once symbolized a bright future.

Publication Date: 
August 15, 2013