Victor Proetz


Victor Proetz

Victor Hugo Proetz (1897-1966) was an American architect, designer, and author of poetry and verse.

His Career as an Architect and Designer

Proetz was born in Saint Louis, Missouri. He studied painting and design at the Art Institute of Chicago. His studies were interrupted by World War I, during which he served in the Navy, designing and constructing cantonments and fire houses.City Art Museum of Saint Louis Page 9-13]

After the war he enrolled in the school of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, during which time he was the recipient of the Emerson Prize.

In 1924, he returned to Saint Louis and formed an architectural firm with Ralph Cole Hall. Between the World Wars their firm executed numerous commissions in various parts of the country. These commissions notably included the additions and alterations to the Hotel Adolphus in Dallas, Texas, which gained such wide recognition that it was publicized abroad.

Proetz moved to New York in 1933 and during his time there produced forty designs for textile and wall paper.

In 1935 Proetz became vice-president and chief designer of Cosden Inc. (a.k.a. Cosden House), a firm which practiced a combination of architecture and decoration in New York and was owned by Eleanor Neves Cosden, the wife of an Oklahoma oil millionaire. From 1936 to 1937 Proetz worked out of the firm's new London office, on the first penthouse in London, for Lord and Lady [Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma| [Louis Mountbatten] . It was located in a newly constructed apartment building called Brook House; the name honored Lady Louis Mountbatten's father's mansion, which had stood on the site and which was demolished by the Mountbattens to make way for the more modern structure. The apartment building was destroyed during World War II.

Lord and Taylor invited him in 1943 to become director of their interior decorating department. He produced a group of full scale interiors displayed at the Lord and Taylor’s store in New York. They won wide critical acclaim for the use of traditional materials material in combination with contemporary design, as well as the use on unconventional materials. One of the features most favorably remarked upon was the use of ordinary butcher paper as a veneer base for clear lacquer, and other similar devices. He was also commended for his spare use of the fine materials that normal people did not have access to during the war.

Proetz designed the Brooklyn Museum's 19th century period rooms, the porcelain gallery for the Saint Louis Art Museum,Proetz (1962)] and series of public rooms and offices for the Smithsonian Museum's National Portrait Gallery.Washington Post (1966-8-23)]

Through the years, Proetz continually broadened his repertoire. He produced over two thousand designs for furniture, textiles, lighting fixtures, ceramics, glass, and other things, executed here and abroad. All the while, continuing his architectural practice which completed commissions in New York, Long Island, Philadelphia, St. Louis, Lake Forest, Dallas, Palm Beach, San Francisco, and London. He also designed interiors for yachts, and the officers’ quarters on a British airplane carrier.

His Career as an Author

In 1934, while living in New Haven, Connecticut Proetz wrote and illustrated a series of articles called "Comparative Studies of Regional Architecture in the United State" published by House and Garden. Later he would write various articles about contemporary architecture, decorative arts in Sweden, the Classical Revival in America, and kindred subjects. His article, "Private Museums and The Virtue of Curiosity", a history of the private museum, was published in 1962 by The American Association of Museums's "Museum News".

Proetz self-published a book of poetry in 1965 called "Milestones Under Water and Other Monticules". [Proetz (1965)]

In 1971, five years after his death, the New Yorker magazine published his essay "The Astonishment of Words" (also published in book form by the University of Texas press). It details the inadequacy of the translated versions of such texts as:

* The English translation of the Gaelic Rune of Hospitality
* Yankee Doodle
* W. H. Auden's "Look, Stranger"
* William Blake's "Tiger Tiger"
* Robert Burns's "To a Mouse"
* excerpts from Lewis Carrol's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
* Lewis Carrol's Jabberwocky
* Emily Dickinson's I Lost a World--the other day
* Samuel Taylor Coleridge's Kubla Khan

Examples of these texts are included, translated to French and German, then translated back into English. Through the whole essay he marvels at and displays the absurdity of such a task. [Proetz (1971), Pages 82-121]

Resources

There are six archival collections relating to Victor Proetz in Archives of the Saint Louis Art Museum available to researchers by appointment.
* The gift of Charles Thompson, [http://www.slrlc.org:80/record=b1052678]
* The gift of the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, [http://www.slrlc.org:80/record=b1052198]
* The gift of Daniel Perlman [http://www.slrlc.org:80/record=b1052679]
* The gift of Mrs. Arthur Proetz [http://www.slrlc.org:80/record=b1052677]
* The gift of James Billman [http://www.slrlc.org:80/record=b1052680]
* The Gift of John Lohmann [http://www.slrlc.org:80/record=b1052681]

Footnotes

References

City Art Museum of Saint Louis (1944), "Architecture and Decorative Arts by Victor Proetz", City Art Museum, Saint Louis, MO

Proetz, Victor (October 1962), "Private Museums and the Virtue of Curiosity", "The Journal of the American Association of Museums; Museum News"

Proetz, Victor (1965), "Milestones Under Water and Other Monticules", Self-published by Victor Proetz

Proetz, Victor (1971-5-22), "The Astonishment of Words", "The New Yorker"

Washington Post (1966-8-23), "Victor H. Proetz Dead; Curator at Smithsonian"


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