The Susan Lawrence Dana House (1902 – 1904), one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s earliest projects, afforded him the opportunity to experiment with design and construction techniques that would become emblematic of his Prairie Style architecture.
Cast of The Frieze
Though many European modernists shunned exterior ornament, American practitioners like Wright used it liberally to accentuate structure, with a proclivity toward geometric abstractions of nature. Applied on the upper portions of the exterior, the decorative frieze wraps around the house, forming a richly-patterned skin derived from the shape of sumac leaves — a motif applied throughout the house on windows, lamps, and decorative objects. This project is also known and the Dana-Thomas House.
This set of French Doors was originally installed in the Sedgwick S. Brinsmaid House, one of the earliest examples of Prairie-school architecture in Iowa. The horizontally oriented building, with its stucco-and-wood surface, pierced details, and abundance of geometric leaded glass, relates closely to works by Frank Lloyd Wright. A contemporary of Wright, Arthur Heun began his architectural career in Chicago and was an important member of the Chicago Architectural Club, where he exhibited a design for this house in 1902.
Sash windows, chandeliers, and lanterns were designed en suite with the doors; the distinctive element is the chevron pattern, its angles echoing the broadly projecting gables of the house.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House Provides Perfect Backdrop to Jun Kaneko Sculptures in Public Art Exhibition
Are you a fan of the late Architect Frank Lloyd Wright? I sure am. When I visited Chicago on my 2019 summer vacation, Geoffrey and I took a day trip Oak Park to tour the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio and we had all kinds of crazy fun. If you are also a lover of art and architecture, and you also have the means to travel to Buffalo, New York, here’s an excursion that is worth the effort to get to. The Albright-Knox’s Public Art Initiative has partnered with Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House to present an exciting installation featuring artist Jun Kaneko’s monumental ceramic sculptures, which will be on view through early October 2021. Titled The Space Between: Frank Lloyd Wright | Jun Kaneko, the installation comprises seven of the artist’s enormous, freestanding ceramic works for outdoor display on the newly restored grounds of the Martin House estate.
Born in Japan in 1942, Kaneko is an internationally renowned artist primarily known for his pioneering work in ceramic materials. His large pieces, called dangos, are the result of a complex traditional Japanese raku firing and glazing process that produces unique geometric shapes and vibrant color combinations. “In this era of social distancing, the safe, engaging, stimulating experience that public art provides is more important than ever before,” said Janne Sirén, Albright-Knox Peggy Pierce Elfvin Director. “We are proud to collaboratively present this exhibition with the Martin House as our organizations strive to fulfill our missions of enriching and transforming our community.” Wright and Kaneko were both pioneers in their fields, and Wright had an enduring interest in Japanese arts and culture and a reverence for nature, all of which are beautifully captured in Kaneko’s work.
“This public art installation is a unique opportunity to experience the interaction between Kaneko’s sculptures, Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, and the surrounding landscape,” said Mary Roberts, Martin House Executive Director. “The site is now reopened to public tours, and the artwork has provided another reason to visit the estate.” Many of Kaneko’s works represent years of production time due to their immense scale, which takes months to slowly build up to avoid the works being crushed under their own weight. The tallest works in the exhibition are more than 10 feet tall with walls in excess of three inches thick and weigh close to 3,000 pounds. Their fired slip-surfaces create a glass-like coating suitable for outdoor public display in the extreme weather conditions that will occur during the sixteen-month installation.
In addition to the seven large works on the grounds, several smaller works will be on view inside the Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion, the Martin House public visitor center. The selection of works for the installation has been curated by Albright-Knox Public Art Curator Aaron Ott and organized by Martin House Curator Susana Tejada. Visit This Link for more information, and to plan your visit!
I am a big fan of the work of maverick architect Frank Lloyd Wright; this much is no secret. When I was in Chicago in the Spring of 2010, I had the chance to take the train out to the suburb of Oak Park, where I toured Wright’s own family home and studio as well as a dozen or so other residences designed by Wright that still exist in that neighborhood. Wow, what a cool way to spend an afternoon is all I can say. Frank Lloyd Wright! Sadly, I did not get to see the Robie House – which resides in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood – because it was undergoing renovation at the time. Built in 1910 for Frederic Robie, a bicycle and motorcycle manufacturer, this home was one of the first houses to be turned into a national landmark. Now, LEGO has released a replica kit of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 101-year-old masterpiece. Because, how could they not? The LEGO Robie House, designed by Adam Reed Tucker, includes 2,276 pieces and is now available directly from LEGO at This Link for just $199!
It really is true that I missed the best New York City weather so far this year during the week I spent vacationing in Chicago. It also seems to be the case that I brought Chicago’s dreary, damp and cold weather back with me (you’re welcome), as yesterday was one of those Saturdays where you can’t help but ask, “How can I manage to leave my house but still spend all day indoors avoiding this crap weather?” You know what I’m talking about. On such a day, Geoffrey and I found ourselves at the marvelous Guggenheim Museum, where there was much arty fabulousness to enjoy for free (thank you, Corporate Membership)!