Frank Lloyd Wright: America's Master Architect by Kathryn SmithFrank Lloyd Wright: America's Master Architect by Kathryn Smith

Frank Lloyd Wright: America's Master Architect

byKathryn Smith

Hardcover | June 1, 1998

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This diminutive survey features all aspects of Wright's art, from lowslung Prairie houses to the dramatic, seminal Fallingwater, to larger projects such as his two homes, Taliesin and Taliesin West, culminating in that icon of modernism, New York's Guggenheim Museum. This satisfying volume is complete with drawings and rarely seen works from Wright's own Asian art collection.
Kathryn Smith is the author of Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin and Taliesin West and Frank Lloyd Wright, Hollyhock House, and Olive Hill: Buildings and Projects for Aline Barnsdall, and is a former professor of architectural history at the Southern California Institute of Architecture.
Title:Frank Lloyd Wright: America's Master ArchitectFormat:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 4.38 × 4 × 0.98 inPublished:June 1, 1998Publisher:Abbeville Publishing Group

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0789202271

ISBN - 13:9780789202277

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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lots of great pictures from the best of Wright I found this book to have some of the best photographs of Wrights works: interior and exterior buildings, day and night, and furniture. Highly recommended.
Date published: 1999-02-21

Read from the Book

INTRODUCTION: AMERICA’S MASTER ARCHITECTWhile there is little dispute that Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) is America’s greatest architect, there is a general lack of agreement as to the source and the extent of his achievement. His prodigious legacy embraces decorative art, graphic art, houses, public buildings, commercial buildings, and town planning; indeed, everything needed for a total living environment. Wright’s philosophy of organic architecture sought unity in every detail, from furniture to freeways. Over his seventy-year career, he explored ideas that began with the American home and expanded to include the relationship between architecture and landscape and, finally, the relationship between architecture and community. As in a symphony, themes in his work develop, repeat, fall away and return again, in rhythmic patterns. Ultimately, Wright’s vision was optimistic; he sought a harmonious balance between man, nature, and society.Wright took inspiration from both the future and the past. His social philosophy, although grounded in Jeffersonian democracy, was outside the mainstream of its day. Pragmatic and idealistic, autocratic and populist, nostalgic and prophetic—it combined an Emersonian view of the moral good of nature with an American trust in self-reliance. It was based on a romantic understanding of complex economic and social forces as the underpinnings for a new society.To understand Wright’s philosophy requires knowledge of his formative experiences. His life began in 1867 in rural Wisconsin shortly after the Civil War. Westward settlement was swiftly transforming the virgin wilderness that was home to Native Americans into an agrarian countryside. With a family background in Unitarianism he absorbed the ideas of the Transcendentalists, especially Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau. The notion of the preeminence of nature, gained from both experience and literature, made a vivid impression on the young Wright.After his arrival in Chicao in 1887, he quickly grasped the implications of the Industrial Revolution, both positive and negative, and began to forge a genuinely authentic American architecture, on in contrast to the European historical styles that dominated the times.After an apprenticeship with the firm of Adler and Sullivan, in 1893 he established his independent practice in Oak Park, Illinois, by turning his attention to the American home. His goal was nothing less than the creation of the beautiful house in every detail. From the building itself to the furniture, carpets, and table linens, everything attracted his scrutiny, even arrangements of flowers and books.Wright’s formative years came to an end at the turn of the century with his development of a new type of American dwelling—the Prairie House—which, from its debut, started an international revolution that continues to reverberate. Suburbia, a unifying decorative scheme, and a reverence for family life merge in the Prairie House to create a building that, although dedicated to conservative values, was a radical departure from precedent due to its open spatial plan. Emanating from a consistent set of principles, the Prairie House nevertheless offered a variety of solutions to fit differing clients, budgets, and sites.The period 1903-6 is critical. At this time, Wright made a commitment to modern materials, primarily reinforced concrete, with Unity Temple in Oak Park; and he introduced an austere abstraction with the Larkin Administration Building in Buffalo. For the remainder of this period, he continued to produce numerous houses for middle-class families and several on a very grand scale when the client and budget permitted.Feeling restricted by suburbia both personally and professionally, Wright soon sought a wider context for his expression. Redefining his ambitions in 1911 with the building of a new house and studio, Taliesin, he began an exhaustive search for a language that would reestablish a vital connection between architecture and nature, a link that Wright believed had existed in preliterate cultures.Where Wright had used representation in the Prairie House, he now chose abstraction. For instance, in the art glass of the earlier Dana House (1902-4) in Springfield, Illinois, crystallized butterflies float over the dining room table as hanging lamps, and light plays against the stylized sumac leaves of the windows as if the house were being caressed by the forest. Taliesin became instead a metaphor for the surrounding landscape. Low roof lines echoed the profile of the hills, the walls were stained the color of the sand of the neighboring Wisconsin River, and native stone was laid up in horizontal layers to recall the stratified rock nearby.The transition from the elaboration of a decorative style to the creation of a potent symbol of nature was facilitated by Wright’s contact with Asian art. He had begun collecting Japanese prints as early as 1902. In 1905, he left the United States for the first time to spend three months in Japan. With information clearly gained in advance from books and Japanese associates, Wright systematically sought out historic shrines and gardens, Japanese art and craft. By 1916, when he sailed for Japan to spend the majority of the next six years in Tokyo building the Imperial Hotel, he was eager to accumulate not only thousands of wood block prints, but screens, textiles, ceramics, printed papers, bronzes, sculptures, and rugs. Intellectually, these six years were ones of study and reflection, in which Wright found inspiration for many of the themes that would rejuvenate his work between 1925 and 1936. In Asian art, Wright discovered an aesthetic that revealed the inner geometric structure of nature, and which used elements of flora and fauna to symbolize a powerful and meaningful cosmology. His early exposure to and background in Transcendentalism prepared him for these points of view but not for the complex task of translating them into architectural form.

Table of Contents

21 | FORMATIVE YEARS (1887-1899)
45 | PRAIRIE PERIOD (1900-1910)
99 | JAPAN AND CALIFORNIA (1911-1924)
167 | USONIAN PERIOD (1937-1947)
219 | LATE WORKS (1948-1959)
281 | INDEX

From Our Editors

A pocket-sized overview of the architect's entire career, with more than zoo photographs, drawings, and examples from Wright's own collection of Asian art.A master of modern architecture, an artist of unrivaled international stature, Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959) is the ideal subject to debut as the first Tiny Folio "TM" architect. This diminutive survey features all aspects of Wright's art, from lowslung Prairie houses to the dramatic, seminal Fallingwater, to larger projects such as his two homes, Taliesin and Taliesin West, culminating in that icon of modernism, New York's Guggenheim Museum. This satisfying volume is complete with drawings and rarely seen works from Wright's own Asian art collection.

Editorial Reviews

"Based on sound scholarship . . . set[s] forth Wright's ideas about buildings, people, nature and their interaction. . . . Warm, radiant pictures of his famous interiors will especially appeal to decorators. . . . All the pictures are of the highest quality." —Roanoke Times, 10/18/98