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What We Do Here Is Magic:
The Art of Business and the Business of Art

by Anna Wolak
Foreword by Lewis Kostiner

During late spring of 2010, the Palmer House Hilton Hotel in Chicago began its search for what it called "the next Monet." There was a reason.

Bertha Honoré Palmer (1849-1918), a distinguished socialite and philanthropist known as the Queen of Chicago, collected French Impressionist paintings by Mary Cassatt, Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Eventually, her personal collection was gifted to the Art Institute of Chicago, and it became the core of the museum's French Impressionist collection.

In keeping with the tradition of supporting the arts, the Palmer House approached the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and offered to host a photography class for two semesters. The Chair of the Photography Department, Barbara DeGenevieve, invited photographer Lewis Kostiner to teach the course. The students were given a classroom space, full access to the hotel, and funds to create work inspired by the hotel. The work would ultimately be displayed in the hotel's hallways and famous lobby.

The hotel's manager, Todd Temperly, told the students at their first meeting, "What we do here is magic," and he asked them not to compromise that vision. The images in this book are the results of the partnership between the historic hotel and the esteemed school of art. Success in these two fields—business and art—is measured the same way: success is when a grand impression is made, and all the hard work that it takes to make that grand impression seems effortless, seem magical.

Works from this project have been displayed in the Stephen Daiter Gallery in the River North neighborhood of Chicago, in the Sharp Building at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and in Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office at City Hall.

About the Authors

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What We Do Here Is Magic


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