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Intelligence Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive

Frank Lloyd Wright’s futuristic vision of what the world should have looked like is as breathtaking today as it was when he passed away 58 years ago. Referred to quite unanimously as America’s most famous architect, Wright’s seemingly endless catalogue is now on display at MoMa, beginning on what would have been his 150th birthday.

The exhibition’s title refers to the monumental task of moving across the country 55,000 drawings, 300,000 sheets of correspondence, 125,000 photographs and 2,700 manuscripts in addition to models, films and building fragments.

Wright’s architectural sketches are delightfully varied and creative. The drawings range from diagrams composed entirely of colorful, circular designs in an organic, “ornament” style, to outlandish proposals for mile-high skyscrapers in Chicago. The exhibition boasts 12 sections, each of which is dedicated to an important aspect of Wright’s architecture, and evidenced by exclusive material from his foundation’s archives.

The showing will remain open through October 1st.

Written by Camron intern: Fletcher Sherrod

#875. Frank Lloyd Wright. "Peacock" Chair from the Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, ca. 1922. Manufactured by Matsu-Zukaya Company, Japan. Oak, caning. - - Collection of @metmuseum. Acquired in 1968 after the demolition of the hotel, when a large group of the model in varying states of age and condition were shipped to the US. Currently exhibited @themuseumofmodernart in "Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive." Photo by me.- - While there are at least a dozen American museums with this model, and it has frequently appeared on the auction market, the Met's chair might be the earliest surviving example, as it is the only one in a museum (and the only one I have ever seen) to possess a caned seat, back, and sides, a version clearly visible in the earliest period photos. There are numerous variations in the seats and upholstery of these chairs. Beware of cavalier dating of the model.- - "One is surprised to find that the chairs are so fragile and small in scale. They may have been too delicate for the stature of foreign guests to the Imperial Hotel, and chairs were undoubtedly frequently broken. Repairs and replacements must have been common." - David Hanks, The Decorative Designs of Frank Lloyd Wright, 1979- - The Imperial Hotel's history and design have been celebrated a thousand times over by scholars, so I am not going to get into it here. I have always been a bit "meh" about this chair, which is why its ranking is rather low on the List of 1001. But my list tries to balance my passion for particular works with overall historical importance and recognition of how museums and the market have developed the canon of modern design. Do I vastly prefer works by Mollino and Noguchi which I have already listed? Of course. But I am striving for a certain overall balance and harmony.- - #franklloydwright #moma #unpackingthearchive #franklloydwrightat150 #moderndesign #imperialhotel #metropolitanmuseumofart

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Tim Monaghan