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For the Love of Art Within the Walls of Architecture: “Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit at MOMA”

Sure I love Chicago. But I also love the architecture there. A large part of that is because of Frank Lloyd Wright. This Chicagoan created The Prairie School style of architecture. The Prairie School is also known as organic architecture meaning that design followed the surrounding environment, a.k.a. “form follows function”. 

To my knowledge no other architect had more influence over any of his projects than the way FLW did. He not only created the buildings and homes for his clients, he also designed furniture, light fixtures, and windows. He wanted clean lines not clutter in “his homes” even though he wasn't the one that lived in them. He was very particular on what he saw for each property sometimes despite the budget or even what was asked of him. 

Wright once said: “to thus make of a dwelling place a complete work of art… this is the modern American opportunity.”

I have to say of all his creations that I have been lucky enough to see in person, I could not imagine them any other way. They are more like livable works of art. They are other worldly visions. That is what is has always fascinated me about this man.  

I have followed my love of all things Frank Lloyd Wright from Chicago, IL ( to Mill Creek, PA ( But just a few weeks ago all I had to do was travel to nearby NYC to get to see a special exhibit the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA) had about the Frank Lloyd Wright. 

This year would mark the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth and many places across the country are having special events to celebrate. This exhibit came about for this reason. MOMA, working in conjunction, with Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library and Columbia University proudly displays this exhibit which closes October 1st.

Officially called: “Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive”, there was so much to take in. There were numerous sketches in various stages of completion, a drawing desk, small scale models, stained glass in Wright’s classic geometric style, samples of his interior ornaments like chairs he made for the Imperial Hotel he worked on in Japan and the curtains from a home in Buffalo. There was even an ad that had appeared once in the Sunday Chicago Tribune advertising your chance to have a Wright designed home all of your own. 

While I enjoyed seeing all of his work and how impressive his mind was, for me the drawings of the places I have seen in person were extra special to me. Once you have had the privilege of stepping into a Wright created space you will never forget it. So seeing how it started and then remembering where you stood when it was all over, is a journey. 

Here I saw his work behind his home and studio in Chicago, Unity Temple (also in Chicago) as well as Fallingwater, the home he literally built into a waterfall. This last one was an example of how he used his better judgement to ignore a client’s request for a location and follow his gut. What he created is now a National Historic Landmark. I guess what they say is true: “there is a thin line between genius and insanity”. In this instance I say thank heavens.

Overall, Wright has designed more than one thousand buildings with five hundred and thirty-two having been completed. Among the last was the Guggenheim Museum in NYC. Wright worked on this for over sixteen years, from 1943 - 1959, not bad for a man who eighty when it began! Sadly he died six months before it was completed. 

Sketches and small models of the Guggenheim were among the last things I saw. While I appreciate the design it is my least favorite piece is Wright’s work. The design is supposed to resemble a seashell and encourage visitors to travel downwards as they view the artwork. However I have visited the Guggenheim and I do not care for it. I feel dizzy when I am there and no one seems to be going in the right direction. No pun intended. 

On my way out of MOMA I decided to visit an old friend which happens to be my most favorite piece of art of all time; Vincent Van Gough’s “Starry Night”. 

Upon entering the gallery where its located I initially couldn't find it. But then I had a flashback to a moment in Paris when I was in the Louvre amongst the mob photographing the Mona Lisa. Starry Night had the same line formed as each person waited to take their shot. There was even a guard at both posts. When I saw the line it made me smile I as remembered this and then got in line to get my shot. 

The last time I visited MOMA was a few years ago and photography wasn't allowed, not even non-flash photography. To satisfy my love of this work I purchased a framed replica which I still have hanging up. However taking my own shot made this experience more complete for me. 

I recently read an article that said that this painting may prove that Van Gough suffered from migraines and that the swirls of color you see are what his auras looked like to him. I don't know whether or not that is true, but I do like thinking that he and I had at least one thing in common. For more, read the last link below.

As for me and Frank, our story will continue on. Now I am most eager to see his works in Buffalo and L.A. I also have a strong yearning to visit his masterpieces Taliesin (both west and east) in Arizona and Wisconsin. From there the world is my oyster! 

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