Frank Lloyd Wright Unpacking The Archive
Unpacking Wright’s archive of more than two million objects, on the 150th anniversary of the master architect’s birth
Published for a major exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art, this catalog reveals new perspectives on the work of Frank Lloyd Wright, a designer so prolific and familiar as to nearly preclude critical reexamination. Structured as a series of inquiries into the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives at Taliesin West, Arizona (recently acquired by MoMA and Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library, Columbia University), the book is a collection of scholarly explorations rather than an attempt to construct a master narrative. Each chapter centers on a key object from the archive that an invited author has “unpacked”— tracing its meanings and connections, and juxtaposing it with other works from the archive, from MoMA, or from outside collections. Wright’s quest to build a mile-high skyscraper reveals him to be one of the earliest celebrity architects, using television, press relations and other forms of mass media to advance his own self-crafted image. A little-known project for a Rosenwald School for African-American children, together with other projects that engage Japanese and Native American culture, ask provocative questions about Wright’s positions on race and cultural identity. Still other investigations engage the architect’s lifelong dedication to affordable and do-it-yourself housing, as well as the ecological systems, both social and environmental, that informed his approach to cities, landscapes and even ornament. The publication aims to open up Wright’s work to questions, interrogations and debates, and to highlight interpretations by contemporary scholars, both established Wright experts and others considering this iconic figure from new and illuminating perspectives.