Friday, April 27, 2012

Frank Lloyd Wright, by the Book

As I look ahead to my new post as Executive Director of the Western New York Book Arts Center (and look back at my tenure as Martin House Curator), a natural bridge seemed to be a look at Frank Lloyd Wright, the book arts, and publications related to the Martin House.

Books weave their way through Wright's life and work, from the volumes he brought with him to Chicago (and little else), to the open books incorporated in the pilasters of his Oak Park Studio, to the Wasmuth portfolio that introduced his early work to Europe.  Most significantly, Wright collaborated with the Auvergne Press, a private press of his early client William H. Winslow, to produce The House Beautiful (1897)Lavishly adorned with Wright's graphic ornaments, the book was hailed by the Evening Post as "the most sumptuous volume ever issued from a strictly private press."

Of course, the book project that would define Wright's identity was one by Wright, about Wright: An Autobiography of 1932.  In those lean years, Wright turned to one of his most engrossing projects:  the retrospective (and strategically fictionalized) account of his own life and work, and the many struggles inherent to both.

For my own part, publications have formed a lasting record of my work at the Martin House.  In 2005, I collaborated with Kent Kleinman, then Chair of Architecture at the UB School of Architecture and Planning, to produce a catalog of our visitor center competition (On Wright).  In 2008, Frank Lloyd Wright Art Glass of the Martin House Complex was published by Pomegranate, an expanded companion to the 1999 Windows of the Darwin D. Martin House exhibition and catalog (Burchfield Penney Art Center).  Forthcoming this fall is an essay on Wright's fireplace mantels and surrounds for a special issue of SaveWright, the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy newsletter, and next year, a chapter on our visitor center design for the book Additions, Subtractions, Adjacencies: The Challenges of Change to the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright (Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy, Richard Longstreth, Editor).

Now, just since I started this post, I think Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer has published another book on Wright.  I ask you:  who can keep up? 

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