Grand Canal, America (Electrical Building at Night)
Geerlings is best-known as a printmaker and studied etching at the Royal College of Art in London in 1928. However, he began his career as an architect. This professional background is reflected in his detailed renderings of architectural subjects. He was especially drawn to the growing metropolises of New York City and Chicago and favored dramatic views of towering modernist buildings. This print features the Electrical Building at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair (also known as the Century of Progress International Exposition). Geerlings’ image actually focuses on the monumental pylons flanking the building’s Water Gate that were decorated with sculptural reliefs by Lee Lawrie. The image of these structures is made more visually striking by the dramatic perspective and massive shafts of light that symbolize the futuristic power of electricity. During the Depression, Geerlings’ glorified view signified the nation’s faith in the progressive force of technology and industry to transcend its economic problems, winning the artist first prize for best etching at the fair.