If Chicago is an architecture lover's paradise today, it is largely due to the efforts of a single individual. Richard Nickel (1928-1972) was not "just a photographer who happens to take pictures of buildings," as he modestly called himself. He was a soft-spoken missionary whose passionate one-man campaign to preserve Chicago's ornate 19th century architectural masterpieces--earmarked for destruction by Mayor Richard J. Daley in the name of progress--inspired a nationwide movement. Richard Cahan's superb biography of Nickel depicts the photographer's heroic and ultimately tragic struggle to salvage everything he could get his hands on, first with his trusty view camera and then with a hacksaw and chisel.
"Richard Nickel, whom I had the delight of knowing during his all too brief life, is one of the unsung heroes of Chicago architecture. He was not an architect himself, nor a designer. He simply took pictures, but what pictures! He was, for want of a better description, one of the most sensitive of architectural photographers. More than that, his life--and ironically, tragically and poetically, his death--were fused to Chicago architecture. How he died tells us how he lived: for the beauty in the works of Sullivan, Wright and the others. His story is one that must be told." --Studs Terkel, author "He was completely understanding of architecture and genius and of the quality of the work he was dealing with. He was single-minded in his pursuit and dedication to quality in history, art and architecture. That is an increasingly rare quality." --Ada Louise Huxtable, former New York Times architecture critic "Richard was an excellent photographer--sensitive and intelligent, and a very good craftsman". --John Szarkowski, former Director, Photography, Museum of Modern Art, New York "Richard Nickel was one of those who saw architecture, and who passionately and skillfully pursued its portrayal. He was one of a very small number, and to make his work known would be a fundamental service to architects, students, and teachers as well as to the art of architecture." --Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., architectural historian
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