Modern Architecture: Being the Kahn Lectures for 1930

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Southern Illinois University Press, 1931 - Architecture - 114 pages
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A careful reproduction of the 1931 Princeton University Press edition, including seven fine-screened black-and-white photographs on heavy coated paper of archival quality to preserve the finest detail. The Wright designed cover is treated with a protective coating to ensure that Wright’s subtle colors are protected from damage by abrasion or deterioration from extended exposure to sunlight.

 

This book is one of the earliest statements by Wright of the principles of design that were to guide his entire career. Wright described this book in a 1931 letter as “my Garden.” In these lectures are found not forms but fire, not formulas but ideas, not formality but vitality. They are not merely a monument to Wright’s work up to that time, but ideas that continue to bear fruit today.

 

As E. Baldwin Smith writes in his preface, “[The lectures] are the sermons of an engaging, self-confident and enthusiastic artist fired with a faith, not in the machine itself, but in the power of man to master his creation, the machine, and to make it fashion a new manifestation of beauty.” He went on to prophesy that as Wright sought to “give men a new and hopeful outlook on the Machine, his philosophy of life, with his reactions, ideas and prejudices, will become a document in the history of art.” This fine new edition admirably fulfills that vision.

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About the author (1931)

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.

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