Alfonso Iannelli (1888-1965) was a throw-back to another age. A Renaissance artisan lost in the Twentieth Century, he operated a successful design studio in the Chicago area and became very famous as a sculptor and industrial designer. Then, in a familiar American pattern, he was forgotten.
As a Vaudeville illustrator, Iannelli was brought to Chicago in 1914 to sculpt for Frank Lloyd Wright. His "Midway Gardens" concrete Sprites brought him delight as well as heartache as Wright's name alone was remembered for the famous project and not the sculpting talent Iannelli had brought to it.
For fifty years, Iannelli Studios in Park Ridge designed theaters, churches, advertisements, fountains, houses and monuments. His bronze corner panels for the Adler Planetarium and monumental "Rock of Gibraltar" carving for the Prudential building are well known icons in Chicago.
He designed numerous pavilions and exhibits for "A Century of Progress," the 1933 World's Fair and countless kitchen gadgets for America's countertops.
His sculptures, drawings and stained glass windows were exhibited in 1925 at the Art Institute. But after World War II, his name and face were forgotten by the public and he died with the products of his invention consigned to basements and storerooms in another man's masterpiece.
Over the last two decades, ArchiTech Gallery acquired hundreds of his drawings and the bulk of his office archives. Years of reading those archives and writing this story have produced the definitive monograph of this amazing artist and the book Alfonso Iannelli: Modern By Design will be released this Fall.