By Jeannine Sherman
Director of Public Relations
The architect must be a prophet... a prophet in the true sense of the term... if he can't see at least ten years ahead don't call him an architect.
Frank Lloyd Wright
The Milwaukee Art Museum is the perfect setting for Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century. The exhibit celebrates the 100th anniversary of Taliesin, Wright’s home, studio and school in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and the 10th anniversary of another architectural wonder, the Museum’s Quadracci Pavilion, designed by noted Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava.
This is a total Wright immersion, with more than 150 works including many drawings that have never been publicly exhibited, scale models, furniture, photography and rare video footage of Wright with his family and students at Taliesin.
It’s one thing to appreciate genius. It’s another thing to stand beside it.
Wright’s drawings are amazing – at once simple yet sophisticated, detailed yet clean-lined, delicate yet purposeful. There are also some unexpected surprises. My favorites include the 1958 “LivingCity” complete with space-age cars and flying saucer-style airplanes and the early 1900s LarkinBuilding. There is no better way to illustrate Wright’s 21st century vision than the juxtaposition of horse and carriage parked in front of this modern-day office building.
If you’ve never been to S.C. Johnson in Racine, get ready for the next best thing – a cool scale model. Wright’s flair for the organic is found not only in the way he designed buildings to complement their natural setting. It extends to indoor spaces as well, right down to the individual bud bases on the desks he created for the building’s Great Workroom.
Other highlights include a scale model of “The Illinois,” a mile-high skyscraper concept complete with 15,000 parking spaces and heliport and a 1930s scale model of BroadacreCity. This urban utopia was Wright’s answer to overcrowded cities and ugly suburban sprawl. “A city that is everywhere but nowhere” is how he defined his ideal of decentralization. Because of its fragile nature this will likely be the last chance to see it.
If you’re like me, you’ll get lost in the video of Wright’s well-known Fallingwater. This private residence was built around a waterfall and the images in this four- season survey speak volumes about Wright’s love of the natural world. The exhibit also features Wright’s houses of worship and his energy efficient, affordable Usonian homes.
It’s an amazing journey through nearly seven decades of exceptional design by an architect who literally changed the American landscape.
Early in life, I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose honest arrogance, and have seen no occasion to change.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Wright on, Frank. Wright on.
Details: Frank Lloyd Wright: Organic Architecture for the 21st Century runs now through May 15. Milwaukee Art Museum hours: Tues. – Sun. 10 – 5; Thurs. 10 – 8. Don’t miss the exhibit’s gift shop. Where else are you going to find a Fallingwater Lego set for that budding architect?