The dynamic duo of modern design, unconventional husband-and-wife Charles and Ray Eames, are given equal weight in Jason Cohn and Bill Jersey’s invaluable, straightforward “Eames: The Architect and The Painter.” They’re a utopian pair, “a painter that didn’t paint and an architecture school dropout who never got his license,” and the products of their many years of collaboration include what amounts to a reinvention of the chair, with their molded plywood exemplar, and a hundred or so of some of the most effective and beautiful instructional short films of the last century, made for clients ranging from IBM, Westinghouse, Polaroid and the United States government. (“Powers of Ten”: find it.) Working from their Eames Office studio in Venice, California, they inspired generations (including the unlikely example of screenwriter-director Paul Schrader) with their painstaking attention to detail and their insistent perfectionism. Amid the trove of archival material uncovered are Ray’s tens of thousands of photographs, adding to the marvel of their shared creativity and productivity. It’s eyes-wide-open stuff. With Schrader, Lucia Eames, Richard Saul Wurman, Kevin Roche, Jeannine Oppewall. James Franco narrates. 84m. DigiBeta. (Ray Pride)
“Eames: The Architect and The Painter” plays Saturday-Monday and November 13 at Siskel.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.