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Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, Frank Lloyd Wright 1943-1959

Posted by George Pudlo on November 15, 2011 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)





The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, in New York City, is perhaps the most visited Frank Lloyd Wright designed structure in the United States. The Guggenheim Museum, is also surprisingly the only Frank Lloyd Wright designed building in New York City. Though, this shouldn't come as a surprise if one considers the lack of natural sites in New York City. Wright never liked cities and had a few things to say about New York City in general, saying he didn't see an idea in the whole thing, and that it was developed as a race for rent, and is a monument to the power of money and greed. In an interview with Mike Wallace in 1957, at the age of 90, Frank Lloyd Wright suggested building two mile high skyscrapers in Central Park, destroying the rest of the city, and planting green -"wouldn't it end the agony?"


As with many of Frank Lloyd Wright's projects, the Guggenheim Museum concept took an unusually long time to plan and build. The contract was signed with Guggenheim in 1943, though without a site selected until 1944, this set the trend for a long adventure with the Guggenheim. One of the issues with the design of the Guggenheim Museum, pointed out to Wright well before construction began on the tapered, helix shaped concrete building was the curved walls. How could paintings be hung on walls that curve? This of course was no reason to fret for Wright, as he saw the building itself as the work of art. 


The Guggenheim Museum is Wright's greatest expression of the nature of concrete, with its fluid walls circulating and expanding as the building climbs upward. One walks into the museum to find that what is viewed on the outside is not a fancy facade, but rather a clear expression of how the interior space flows. Form follows function. A giant skylight brightens the interior with natural light, while the paintings are protected from the light by the progressive sets of floors above, shading the works of art. 


More than 700 drawings were created for the lengthy Guggenheim Museum project. In 1955, Frank Lloyd Wright occupied a suite in the Plaza Hotel, that they allowed him to renovate, and which he dubbed "Taliesin East". Neither Frank Lloyd Wright nor Solomon Guggenheim lived to see the opening of the museum in October of 1959. Not surprisingly, and to Wright's certain posthumous pleasure, recent data has suggested that more people visit the Guggenheim to see the building itself, and that the art contained within is secondary.


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