What I love about Frank Lloyd Wright:

  • he was an innovator whose designs are still celebrated today,
  • he was a consummate craftsperson whose attention to detail can be seen in everything from his drawings to his use of unusual materials to his insistence that the interiors be appointed in a style of furnishings that matched the overall architecture
  • he overcame adversities (many of them a result of his unconventional lifestyle choices) to persevere and further develop his unique aesthetic
On vacation back east recently, I found out a landmark exhibition of Wright's work was being shown at New York's Guggenheim--an unusual structure he designed in the 1930s to house the Guggenheim's growing collection of similarly unusual non-objective (abstract) artworks.

Wright's exhibition, "From Within Outward," celebrates the museum's 50th anniversary. It included extensive sketches, such as the rendering at left. The sketches themselves are beautifully rendered on vellum and drafting paper, in delicate but firm strokes of the pen with occasional overlays of ink or watercolor wash. Notations in the corners, bits of comments about construction or location. A glimpse into the mind of the artist.

There were videos and abundant photographs of architectural sites, site plans, the buildings during construction and in finished form. The models made by architectural grad students were exceptional, bringing to life the mastery and vision of Wright's designs for such places as Unity Temple or Taliesen. The only things missing, to my mind, were more interior shots of his designs.

here to go to the exhibition site and view a video tour of the show.

Frank Lloyd Wright's influence was far-reaching, inspiring architects to integrate the buildings into the landscape in a way that continues today. He broke outside the box-mold of building to create organic structures that simulated movement, the natural elements and reflected his deeply-rooted philosophical and faith-based beliefs about unity and spirit.

One can see his bits of his influence in local structures like the Cutter houses, which hugged into the landscape moreso than the designs of his contemporaries. Where can one see more tangible evidence? Wright designed the Archie Boyd Teater Studio in Bliss, Idaho, as well as three private residences in Seattle such as the William B Tracy House (click here for a Flickr series of photos).

Another thing that struck me about the exhibition was the fact that it was so heavily attended. True, it was the closing week of the show. And it was summer in New York City along the so-called Museum Mile which runs up the east side of Central Park. And New York City is a destination for people the world over, evidenced by the numerous languages being spoken in the long, snaking line of eager museum-goers waiting outside for their chance to shell out their hard-earned clams to climb the inner spiral that is the inside of the Guggenheim.

Is it possible that New Yorkers are just more culturally literate than others? What would happen if such as show was held at our beloved MAC? Surely Seattle audiences could do justice to attendance figures. But what about here? These are things I wonder as I continue to write a blog I don't know is even being read.