Joseph Urban’s Gifts: Fantasy, Realism, Abstract Decoration, Architectural Solidity

July 29, 2021

Watch Recording

Join Jennifer B. Lee, Performing Arts Curator, Rare Books & Manuscript Library, Columbia University, for an insider’s look into the amazing and continuingly exciting archive of Joseph Urban, a name that was by some measures as well known in his day as that of Frank Lloyd Wright, his longer lived contemporary. This talk will give an outline of Urban’s wide range of work from Vienna in 1898 through the Chicago Century of Progress in 1933, including his designs for Kaufmann’s Department Store in Pittsburgh, which are also on display at Fallingwater’s Speyer Gallery this tour season. Beginning and ending with architecture, all of his work for stage, screen, home, or institution was informed by his training as an architect, while his extraordinary vision made new use of color and light. My talk will include images of the drawings, photographs, and set models that are held in the Joseph Urban Archive, given to Columbia by his widow, Mary Urban, in 1958.

Photo of Jennifer B. Lee
Jennifer B. Lee

Jennifer B. Lee is Curator of Performing Arts Collections at the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Columbia University where she has been on the staff since 1999. She majored in English Literature at the University of Rochester, while taking flute and chamber music lessons at the Eastman School of Music, holds an MA in English from the University of Virginia, and the MLS from the former School of Library Science at Columbia. Prior positions were with Library Company of Philadelphia, the John Hay Library at Brown University, and the then combined Rare Books and Manuscripts Department at The New York Public Library.