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Major exhibition at New York’s MoMA celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright 150th anniversary

By FEDERICA LUSIARDI - August 1, 2017

Frank-Lloyd-Wright-portrait-MoMA

“Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive” is the exhibition MoMA opens in June 12, 2017. The exhibition celebrates the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great American architect, born in Wisconsin, June 8, 1867.

cover: Frank Lloyd Wright with Wingspread Model at the exhibition “Frank Lloyd Wright American Architect” (1940-1941) the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

In 2012 the transfer of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives to MoMA and to the Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library at Columbia University, has been an occasion to discover at what extent the documents in the archives are still capable to generate new interpretation keys of Wright’s work.
At the exhibition, drawings, architectural models, films, photographs, sketches, paintings, home furniture, and tableware are on view – sometimes for the first time – thus providing the opportunity of a critical investigation on one of the most prolific and innovative designers of the 20th century. Wright’s work encompassed works of any scale, from smaller objects – such as light fixtures, carpets, and furniture – to houses, museums, and high-rise buildings, up to landscape designs, urban and regional plans.

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-at work-Avery

Unknown photographer. Frank Lloyd Wright. n.d. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York) 

Some 450 exhibits are on display, grouped into thematic sections each of which is based on an interpreted and contextualized key object or cluster of objects from the archive.
The sections are arranged around a chronological “central spine” which depicts key moments of Wright’s life and professional career through some of his most iconic designs including the Unity Temple (1905-08), the Robie House 1908-10), the Fallingwater house (1934-37); the Johnson Wax administrative building (1936-39), the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (1943-1959) and the Beth Sholom Sinagogue (1953-59).

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-Unity-Temple

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois. 1905–08. Perspective from the west. Watercolor and ink on paper, 12 × 25 1/8″ (30.5 × 63.8 cm).
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York) 

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-Fallingwater-house

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Fallingwater (Kaufmann House), Mill Run, Pennsylvania. 1934–37. Perspective from the south. Pencil and colored pencil on paper, 15 3/8 × 25 1/4″ (39.1 × 64.1 cm) The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York) 

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-Guggenheim-museum-model

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. 1943–59. Model. Painted wood, plastic, glass beads, ink, and watercolor on paper, 28 x 62 x 44″ (71.1 x 157.5 x 111.8 cm). The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York) 

The 12 section flanking such spine present themes and projects rarely investigated before – such as the design for the Rosenwald School for African American children and that for a model farm (Davidson Little Farms Unit)– while an entire section is dedicated to urban planning and Wright’s research on an urban fabric appropriate for the transport and communication technology of the time.
Other sections cover themes such as the relationship between architecture and ornament, and the dialog between nature, landscape, and architecture.

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-american-system-built

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). American System-Built (Ready-Cut) Houses. Project, 1915–17. Model options. Lithographs, each: 11 x 8 1/2 in. (27.9 x 21.6 cm). The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Gifts of David Rockefeller, Jr. Fund, Ira Howard Levy Fund, and Jeffrey P. Klein Purchase Fund.

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-Rosenwald-School

Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959). Rosenwald Foundation School (La Jolla, California). Unbuilt Project. 1928. Pencil and color pencil on tracing paper. 12 3/4 x 25 7/8” (32.4 x 65.7 cm). The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York). 

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-Davidson-little-farm

Frank Lloyd Wright. Davidson Little Farms Unit. Project, 1932–33. Model. Painted wood and particle board, 7 3⁄4 x 70 x 54 3⁄4 in. (19.7 x 177.8 x 139.1 cm). The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York) 

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-plan-greater-Baghdad

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Plan for Greater Baghdad, Baghdad. Project, 1957. Aerial perspective of the cultural center and University from the north. Ink, pencil, and colored pencil on tracing paper, 34 7/8 x 52″ (88.6 x 132.1 cm). The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York) 

Though not exactly an easy-going man, after designing the Kufmann house – Fallingwater, Wright became a celebrity; this aspect of the architect’s life is presented both through printed publications, such as Time Magazine which dedicated him a cover in 1938, and clips from TV programs.
The last thematic section is centered on the archive as an artifact and a subject of study itself and includes a rare model of the unbuilt design for the St. Mark’s skyscraper in New York, a model of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, and a diagram summarizing the international network of Wright’s clients, his professional relationships, and his buildings.

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-St-Mark-models

Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959). Model of St. Mark’s-in-the-Bouwerie. Unbuilt project. New York, 1927-31. Painted wood. 53 x 16 x 16″ (134.6 x 40.6 x 40.6 cm). The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives (The Museum of Modern Art | Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York). 

Museum-of-Modern-Art-Wright-photo-Guerrero-Avery

Pedro E. Guerrero. Sixty Years of Living Architecture: The Work of Frank Lloyd Wright in New York.1953. © 2017 Pedro E. Guerrero Archives. 

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive
Moma – Museum of Modern Art , New York
Floor Three, Exhibition Galleries

June 12, 2017 / October 01, 2017

Images courtesy of MoMA | https://www.moma.org/

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