Frank Lloyd Wright: The Art of Living
Widely recognized as the leading figure in the history of American architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) forged a distinctly modern American style of building that was based on radical principles of organic design. Wright is most famous for his “Prairie Style” houses of the early 1900s, which are characterized by low horizontal lines that echo the broad flat plains of the Midwestern landscape. Inspired by Wright’s passion for Japanese architecture, his “Prairie Style” homes also typically feature open expansive plans around a central hearth, bands of sparkling leaded glass windows and low-pitched roofs with overhanging eaves.
Although Wright is noted for his bold and experimental exterior designs, he was equally as progressive in his conception of interior space and decorative furnishings. Wright’s interiors are notable for his innovative efforts to harmonize the furniture and fixtures with the structural form of the building, creating a unified ensemble of expressive forms and materials. Influenced by the aesthetic theories of John Ruskin and the English Arts and Crafts movement, Wright believed the artistic integrity of the domestic environment could nurture the emotional and spiritual well-being of his clients. His reformist ideal of an integrated, organic simplicity to interior design became known as “The House Beautiful” movement and typified a new, American style of living that valued artistic refinement mixed with spacious comfort, functional ease and communal intimacy.
Despite some of the progressive aesthetic and social tenets espoused by Wright, the ordered beauty of his house designs also embodied traditional values of agrarian purity and family unity and served as privileged retreats from the chaotic forces of modern cultural change. This gallery provides a selected overview of Wright’s career beginning with his earliest “Prairie Style” designs of the 1910s and continues through his modernist Usonian phase, which extended from the late 1930s through the 1950s. The pieces on display include significant examples of Wright’s leaded glass from the Little and Heurtley Houses, as well as furniture and decorative textiles from the Coonley House and Bogk House and a rare set of Usonian library furniture.
Thanks to generous loans from Mark and Mary Ann Kaufman and an anonymous private collector for the Figge expansion of Frank Lloyd Wright: The Art of Living. The exhibition showcases Wright’s innovative career as an architectural designer of interior furnishings and art glass.