John Massey’s Banners Return to Downtown Chicago
August 1st–31st 2018

Art Design Chicago: 'The Shape of Chicago' — John Massey Banners to Take Over State Street

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

50 years ago, a series of vibrant, geometric banners by designer John Massey went up along Michigan Avenue in the Chicago Loop. This August, Design Museum of Chicago, in partnership with Chicago Loop Alliance Foundation (CLAF) and the Terra Foundation for American Art, brought them back to State Street as part of the City of Chicago’s Year of Creative Youth. Titled, “The Shape of Chicago: John Massey’s 1968 Banners Revisited,” the initiative also coincides with Art Design Chicago, a spirited year-long celebration of Chicago’s art and design legacy spearheaded by the Terra Foundation. The banners will hang along State Street between Lake and Congress Parkway through the end of August.

A tribute to Massey’s immense impact on design in Chicago, the banners represent more than just a nod to the city’s history — they represent Chicago’s continued investment in the arts and design.

John Massey is a legend in Chicago’s history of design, particularly in the public sphere. Art Design Chicago captured a wonderful interview with Massey where he talks about his original banners, as well as his legacy as one of Chicago’s most legendary designers.


In addition to the banners, Design Museum of Chicago also asked a group of fourth-grade Chicago Public School students at Philip D. Armour Elementary School to show us how they see Chicago using only three shapes and three colors. The results were, in John Massey’s own words, “modern masterpieces.” We also recorded the same students telling us why they like Chicago. Listen to the full audio here.