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John Massey’s 1968 graphic banners return to Chicago for 50th anniversary

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Reproductions of the original designs—plus Massey-inspired children's art—are headed to the Loop

Massey’s banners along Michigan Avenue in 1968.
Image courtesy of Chicago Design Museum

Five decades after John Massey brightened downtown Chicago with his series of playful graphic banners, reproductions of the local artist’s minimalist designs are returning to the Loop this summer.

Titled “The Shape of Chicago: John Massey’s 1968 Banners Revisited,” the public installation will place 120 reproduction flags along State Street from Congress Parkway to Wacker Drive. The temporary art exhibit will also incorporate Massey-inspired works from 3rd grade students at Philip D. Armour Elementary School in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.

The students will use a similar geometric aesthetic and the same basic, solid color palette as Massey’s 1968 designs. The pieces will be displayed in planter boxes at street level and joined by audio recordings of the young artists reflecting on their individual creations.

The project is a collaboration between the Chicago Loop Alliance, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Chicago Design Museum. The installation will line State Street from August 1 through 31 and is part of the City of Chicago’s Year of Creative Youth initiative.

3rd graders trying their hand at making their own Massey-inspired artwork.
Chicago Design Museum