Frank Lloyd Wright: Art Glass of the Martin House Complex

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Eric Jackson-Forsberg
Pomegranate Communications, 2009 - Architecture - 96 pages
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When Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) designed the Darwin D. Martin House complex (1903–1905), he filled the windows, doors, skylights, and laylights with nearly four hundred pieces of his signature art glass. The spectacular designs, abstractions of the architecture and surrounding environment, are among some of Wright's finest. These "light screens," as Wright called them, were fundamental to his principle of "bringing the outside in" by blurring the line between enclosed and open spaces.Despite the site-specific nature of Wright's art glass, nearly three-quarters of the pieces at the Martin House complex have been removed—many of them distributed to museums and private collections throughout the world. Today, due to the tremendous reconstruction efforts by the Martin House Restoration Corporation, the art glass designs are being restored to their original home. Only now, in their original context, is it possible to fully appreciate the importance of these "light screens" to Wright's overall composition for the Martin House complex.Edited by Martin House curator Eric Jackson-Forsberg, with additional text by Theodore Lownie, Robert McCarter, and Jack Quinan and an introduction by art glass expert Julie Sloan, Frank Lloyd Wright: Art Glass of the Martin House Complex explores the breadth of Wright's iconic iridescent creations for the Martin House. Full-color images accompany Jackson-Forsberg's insightful text to provide examples of the major patterns and motifs represented in the Martin House, in addition to an assortment of rare variations and outlying designs. Original drawings, historic photographs, floor plans, and excerpts from Wright's personal correspondence add to this comprehensive survey of the exquisite art glass designs found at Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House complex.

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About the author (2009)

Wright is widely considered the greatest American architect and certainly one of the most influential. Throughout a career of nearly 70 years, he produced masterpiece after masterpiece, each different and boldly new and yet each with the unmistakable touch of Wright's genius in the treatment of material, the detailing, and the overall concept. Born in Wisconsin of Welsh ancestry, Wright studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin and began his career in Chicago as chief assistant to Louis Henry Sullivan, who influenced his early thinking on the American architect as harbinger of democracy and on the organic nature of the true architecture. Out of these ideas, Wright developed the so-called prairie house, of which the Robie House in Chicago and the Avery Coonley House in Riverdale, Illinois, are outstanding examples. In the "prairie-style," Wright used terraces and porches to allow the inside to flow easily outside. Movement within such houses is also open and free-floating from room to room and from layer to layer. Public buildings followed: the Larkin Administration Building in Buffalo (destroyed) and the Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois, the former probably the most original and seminal office building up to that time (1905). The Midway Gardens in Chicago and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (both gone) came next, winning Wright still greater acclaim. Personal tragedy, misunderstanding, and neglect dogged Wright's middle years, but he prevailed, and in his later life gathered enormous success and fame. The masterworks of his mature years are the Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wisconsin, and Fallingwater, Bear Run, Pennsylvania---with its bold cantilevered balconies over a running stream, probably the most admired and pictured private house in American architecture; then, toward the end of his life, the spiral design of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Wright's own houses, to which he joined architectural studios, are also noteworthy: Taliesin West was a true Shangri-la in the Arizona desert, to which he turned in order to escape the severe winters in Wisconsin, where he had built his extraordinary Taliesin East. Wright was a prolific and highly outspoken writer, ever polemical, ever ready to propagate his ideas and himself. All of his books reflect a passionate dedication to his beliefs---in organic architecture, democracy, and creativity.

Eric Jackson-Forsberg is curator for the Martin House Restoration Corporation and an adjunct professor of art history at Canisius College, Buffalo, New York. As Martin House Curator, he has contributed to various publications, including a Historic Furnishings Report for the Darwin D. Martin House (2008) and On Wright: Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin D. Martin House Visitors' Center Competition(University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, 2005).

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