Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward

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May 15–August 23, 2009

Fifty years after the realization of Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned design, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrates the golden anniversary of its landmark building with the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, co-organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. On view from May 15 through August 23, 2009, the 50th anniversary exhibition brings together sixty-four projects designed by one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, including privately commissioned residences, civic and government buildings, religious and performance spaces, as well as unrealized urban mega-structures. Presented on the spiral ramps of Wright’s museum through a range of mediums—including more than 200 original Frank Lloyd Wright drawings, many of which are on view to the public for the first time, as well as newly commissioned models and digital animations—Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward illuminates Wright’s pioneering concepts of space and reveals the architect’s continuing relevance to contemporary design.

During his seventy-two-year career, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), who died just six months before the opening of the Guggenheim, worked independently from any single style and developed a new sense of architecture in which form and function were inseparable. Known for his inventiveness and the diversity of his work, Wright is celebrated for the awe-inspiring beauty and tranquility of his designs. Whether creating a private home, workplace, religious edifice, or cultural attraction, Wright sought to unite people, buildings, and nature in physical and spiritual harmony. To realize such a union in material form, Wright created environments of simplicity and repose through carefully composed plans and elevations based on consistent, geometric grammars.

In his earliest designs, such as the Larkin Company Administration Building (Buffalo, New York, 1902–06) and Unity Temple (Oak Park, Illinois, 1905), Wright carefully deconstructed the boxlike environment of his European contemporaries by opening up corners and using walls merely as screens to enclose tranquil interior spaces. While the aesthetic strength of Wright’s work has invited people to revisit his idiom, it is the ambition of Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward to celebrate the basic idea behind his architecture—the sense of freedom in interior space—and inspire visitors to see the potential that architecture can carry for the here and now and for the future.

Highlights of Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward include newly created three-dimensional scale models that examine the internal mechanics of functional space in relation to exterior form in a variety of Wright’s projects. Among these are an exploded version of the Herbert Jacobs House (Madison, Wisconsin, 1937); a mirrored model for Unity Temple; and a sectional model of Beth Sholom Synagogue (Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1953). Large-scale models of unrealized urban projects, including his Plan for Greater Baghdad (1957), the Crystal City for Washington, D.C. (1940), and the Pittsburgh Point Civic Center (1947), provide insight into Wright’s visions for the landscapes of the city. In addition, special animations offer viewers the opportunity to experience an interpretation of nine of Wright’s unbuilt or demolished projects as well as his own Taliesin and Taliesin West.

The exhibition is curated by Thomas Krens, Senior Advisor of International Affairs for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; David van der Leer, Assistant Curator of Architecture and Design; and Maria Nicanor, Curatorial Assistant, both for the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, in collaboration with Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, Director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives; Margo Stipe, Curator and Registrar of Collections of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives; and Oskar Muñoz, Assistant Director of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives. Mina Marefat, an architect and Wright scholar, has served as Curatorial Consultant for the Baghdad module of the exhibition.

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