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Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) is one of the most famous artist in the world. He was born to William Wright (a music teacher and a Baptist minister) and Anna Lloyd Wright. Her mother was a strong and self reliant woman who had an influence over his son’s career. She would maneuver to stay at the forefront of Wrights life. It is often argued that Wright became an architect at her mother’s wish (Treibler, 8). The aim of this paper is to critically discuss about Frank Lloyd Wright and his art while detailing some of his famous artworks.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright was born in June 8, 1867 in Richland Center and died in April 9, 1959. Wright was married with three wives and had seven children. He studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin and later travelled to Chicago where he became an apprentice to Joseph Silbee, a Chicagoan architect at around the age of twenty. He later worked for Louis Sullivan and by the age of 31, he had designed about 800 buildings but only 380 houses were built in 36 states in America while three were built in Japan. He is well known for his long horizontal residential designs popularly known as Prairie style homes. Some of his houses are still there and can be seen in Chicago (Dahlen).
In 1909 Wright went to Europe and after he returned to the U.S. and built a Taliesin. This was once a place he lived, his studio and an agricultural operation. Unfortunately in 1914, the Taliesin was ravaged by fire and killed 7 people (Treibler, 7). The Taliesin is one of the world’s subtlest spatial compositions of that time (8). The Taliesin is currently operated by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and it is open for tours.
Frank LLoyd Wright founded the prairie school of architecture and his creations included public buildings, churches, residential houses, office buildings and museums. Some of the several building styles that he is well known for include the Chicago style, Western concrete block, Prairie style, Usonian and Shinge style. The prairie style resulted from Wright focusing on applying organic principles on residential architecture. Most of his residences were created and integrated to some specific geographic settings and he was more concerned with the relationship of buildings to the land. It is thought that the prairie style was as a result of Wright spending time on his family farm and for his great love of the land as a kid. He had the basic idea that a building should organically grow from the land and that is why he used nature to get ideas on the color, texture and forms of building. According to him, a residential building should be one with unites the inside and outside entities. He termed this the “organic architecture” (Dahlen). In his buildings, Wright was influenced by the Jeffersonian ideal of an agrarian society.
Frank Wright worked on several artworks and developed most of the houses in the first 10 years of the 19th century (Treibler, 18). Some of the famous artworks are discussed below.
The imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan
This was an impressive hotel shaped like an H. it had its main public rooms and lobby in the central area while pools and gardens filled the courtyard. The building is especially famous because it survived several earthquakes because Wright had considered floating foundations and flexible wall structures. He built thicker walls at the base to give the building lower centre of gravity. The building however has since been demolished (Toothman). The hotel building existed from 1916 to 1922 in Tokyo, Japan but was later destroyed in 1968.
I chose this building because it is one of the famous arts of Wright outside the U.S., in Japan. The imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan house is represented in figure 1 below.
Figure 1 The imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan
The Price Water
This is the only skyscraper ever built by Wright. The building is situated in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Wright build the tower that showcases his love for organic, horizontal and homey things and its inspiration comes from a tree. The building was originally built to accommodate offices, living space and retail but now it houses a restaurant, a hotel and an art center. The building’s stunning colors on the interior are set in geometrical murals of sky blue, rich red and gold (Toothman). The building is located in Bartlesville, Oklahoma and was opened in 1956 does exist up to date (Kirschner 1).
I love this 221-foot building, the only skyscraper that Wright managed to build especially with its tree like structure. The Price water skyscraper is represented in figure 2 below.
Figure 2 The Price Water
This was one of Wright’s textile blocks that he built in the 1930s and probably the best known of his buildings. The building overhangs a waterfall are a cantilevered design that has terraces that extends over the water and it includes a staircase that extends below the living room into the water surface below it. Wright felt that he needed to design the house in such a way that the people inside do not visualize the building, a plan he felt would heighten the excitement and the awe to viewers (Toothman). I particularly love this building because according to available literature by Steffensen (2009), shook the Fallingwater out of his sleeve and designed the now world famous building. The story of the Falling water serves as the introduction to Wrights persona. The Fallingwater house was designed in 1936 but opened t the public in 1954. It is represented below.
Figure 3 the Fallingwater house
The Robie House
I felt that the Robie house should also be featured because it espouses Wright’s prairie style. It was in the first decade of 20th century that Wright pioneered the Prairie style. The style emphasized on long horizontal using such features like glass corners and cantilevered roofs to eliminate boxiness. The Robie house, built in Chicago, encompasses all these and has a cantilevered roof of about 20 feet after its last support with art-glass details (Toothman). Treibler (18) refers the Robie house as a steamship because it was built by a narrow corner lot and had a streamlined design and resembled a ship. Wright then later experimented with his own house. The house, a modern residential architecture, was located in Oak Park Illinois. He built the house in triangular form with a big gable that was used to shelter the entrance to the house. He kept a Palladian window as a historical architectural device. Wright also used geometry in his architecture and used to love to practice with breaking down squares instead of having square rooms. The building is located in Chicago and was completed in 1910.
Figure 4 the Robie House in Chicago
Frank Lloyd can be compared to another famous artist Le Corbusier. The two are some of the architects who represented themselves through their work. Wright’s Falling water and Le Corbusier’s Villa Voyage are both perfect examples of artists expressing themselves through their work. The houses were built to exhibit each of the artist’s ideals and designs. The two houses are also abstract cubes in which different geometric elements are employed. However, some there is a particular sneering of Wright whereby some people snub him as “intellectually shallow” when compared to the more intelligent and enlightened architects like Le Corbusier. But recently, Wright has been receiving accolades for his great and respectable work (Peter).