So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright (Artists # 2)
Recently I saw a posting for a home in the Real Estate section of The New York Times. I often look at the homes that are up for sale though I can only rarely even afford the garage for these homes. Real Estate porn some call it. But what struck me was that the unusual home had been designed by an acolyte of legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, someone who actually worked with him and trained under him.
An actual Wright home was deconstructed in one state and then lovingly and carefully rebuilt in another state by a couple I saw in a TV story. See Below:
I was reminded of a trip I made to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum back in 2009 to see a retrospective of Wright's oeuvre. That summer I met my brother Stephen at the Wright-designed Guggenheim Museum on upper Fifth Avenue to see their new exhibit: Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward. It was the 50th anniversary of the famous corkscrew-shaped building. I had always been a great enthusiast for Wright's work and could only imagine living in a Wright-designed home, like the legendary Fallingwater in Pennsylvania. Below is a short video with highlights of Wright's most famous home creation:
The Guggenheim exhibition afforded my brother and me the opportunity to examine more than sixty Wright creations, some of which had never before been available for public viewing. We started at the top and followed the path down the museum's famous spiral galleries. New models had been created to turn the Wright designs into 3-D creations. Digital animations were created of other works. As the Guggenheim program said: "Known for his inventiveness and the diversity of his work, Wright is celebrated for the awe-inspiring beauty and tranquility of his designs. Whether creating a private home, workplace, religious edifice, or cultural attraction, Wright sought to unite people, buildings, and nature in physical and spiritual harmony. To realize such a union in material form, Wright created environments of simplicity and repose through carefully composed plans and elevations based on consistent, geometric grammars." I don't know anyone who so dramatically and profoundly explored the nexus between art and nature. In the video below you can get a sense of what the exhibition was like as we leisurely passed through. The focus is on those who designed the models for the displays. There was nothing leisurely about our response; the beauty of the works took one's breath away.
Nobody would ever accuse Wright of being modest. He knew he was the best. In 1957, at age 88, he said: “If I had another fifteen years to work, I could rebuild this entire country, I could change the nation." Not everyone saw it that way, though. One of the most glaring anomalies that day was the realization that so many of Wright's proposals were just dismissed by prospective buyers! That's why so many elements of the exhibition remained in the architectural drawing or model stages. Other Wright works were razed or mutilated after they were constructed! Genius is so rarely recognized in its own time. It does make one think of the ephemeral nature of art in the world. A building like Fallingwater, for instance, needs a conservancy--it has to undergo regular maintenance to preserve it from the elements and time. Here is a video by Architectural Digest of Wright's very last creation-The Sun House. Like to live here?
The legendary documentarian Ken Burns devoted a good deal of time to a two-part study of Wright and his works a little over twenty years ago. I will add them now below with a Dailymotion link that you can follow episodically. You can also see them on your local PBS websites. Or you can pony up a few bucks to Amazon. But before you get to them I am including a tribute song that Paul Simon wrote back in his Simon & Garfunkel days, a lovely paean to the artist.
And here is the link to start watching the doc: https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x6wvck8