Sunday, March 15, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright

Since my woodturning experiment came out looking somewhat like the Guggenheim museum turned sideways, I thought I'd post something related to "America's most famous architect", Frank Lloyd Wright.

Speaking of the Guggenheim, it was Wright's last major work. It was begun in 1943 and completed in 1959, six months after Wright's death and ten years after the death of sponsor Solomon Guggenheim. Its critical reception was mixed. Wright wanted its design to contrast with the usual boxy New York building and felt that it would make the Museum of Modern Art look like 'a Protestant barn' by comparison. (Not sure what's wrong with a Protestant barn exactly but perhaps it implies something old-fashioned and unimaginative...)
Guggenheim museum, NYC
Wright often designed interiors and furniture as part of his home and building designs. In contrast to the Modernist idea of universality, he was of a mind with the Arts and Crafts designers that furnishings should integrate organically with the particular space they were meant for. "Every chair must be designed for the building it will be in," Wright said.
Below is one of his well-known creations, the Barrel Chair. It was created for the "Wingspread" house, designed for client Herbert Johnson in 1937. It's made of cherrywood and upholstered with a leather seat.
Unlike the original Arts and Crafts practictioners, Wright was not anti-machine. His designs were meant to enable machine production methods to make them affordable to a larger audience. "The machine has liberated the beauties of nature in wood," Wright said to the Arts and Crafts Society in a 1901 lecture.
Wright was known for his strong opinions and lofty pronouncements. In a literary footnote, he was thought to have been the model for the idealistic architect Howard Roark in the Ayn Rand novel The Fountainhead, though both Rand and Wright denied it. (Rand did, however, commission Wright to build a summer cottage for her, which was never completed.)

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