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The Master Guide to Wright's Greatest Works!
on July 16, 2001
I have been a fan of Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture for over 30 years, and have seen many of his finest buildings. No book that I have seen in those years is as good as this one for explaining his life, the development of his architectural style, providing the details of his best work, and showing stunning photographs of exteriors, interiors, and views. If you only buy one book about Mr. Wright, I suggest this one. I have it with me tonight as I begin a one week pilgrimage to his finest work in the midwest. Each night, I will reread the sections about the works that I will be seeing the next day.
The book would be worth buying, just for the photography alone. For those buildings that still exist, brand new color images were made. These are so magnificently reproduced that they actually exceed the appearances of the originals! I don't know of another book of architectural photography where I could make the same statement. It is as though you are seeing the scenes in Wright's eye, as the pure forms that he was seeking to reproduce. Also, you get lots of images. For example, the home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois section displays 10 large color photographs. Naturally, for the buildings that do not still exist, you have only historical photographs, some in black and white. But these are very fine, as well.
Most books with wonderful photographs usually have limited essays. Masterworks is the happy exception. The essays are clear, thoughtful, and extensive. Yet they tie together to tell the story of Mr. Wright's development. So, they are more like chapters in a book rather than stand-alone essays that such books usually inspire. I was particularly pleased with the information about the materials and building methods that Mr. Wright experimented with and used at various stages of his career.
As wonderful as the photographs and essays are, what made the book special for me were the many draft sketches and conceptual diagrams in Mr. Wright's own hand. To see the transition from first sketch to final details was wonderful.
If you know Mr. Wright's work, you will be aware that he often designed his own furniture and sculptures for the buildings, and had craftsmen execute them. You will see many fine examples in the book of these details presented in their most dramatic ways.
The book also has good balance. Many books about Mr. Wright favor his homes, or his famous works, or his public buildings. This one creates a balance over his entire career of all his work. So you get a decent amount about his Usonia period as well as his Prairie years.
Here are the works that are covered in the book: Home and studio in Oak Park, Illinois; William H. Winslow House, River Forest, Illinois; Susan Lawrence Dana House, Springfield, Illinois; Arthur Heurtley House, Oak Park, Illinois; Ward W. Willits House, Highland Park, Illinois; Larkin Company Administrative Buidling, Buffalo, New York; Unity Temple, Oak Park, Illinois; E.E. Boynton House, Rochester, New York; Avery Coonley House, Riverside, Illinois; Meyer May House, Grand Rapids, Michigan; Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago, Illinois; Midway Gardens, Chicago, Illinois; Imperial Hotel, Tokyo, Japan; F.C. Bogk House, Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Aline Barnsdall House, Los Angeles, California; John Storer House, Hollywood, California; Paul R. and Jean S. Hanna House, Stanford, California; Fallingwater, Mill Run, Pennsylvania; Herbert Jacobs House, Madison, Wisconsin; S.C. Johnson & Son Administrative Building, Racine, Wisconsin; Herbert F. Johnson House, Wind Point, Wisconsin; C. Leigh Stevens House, Yemassee, South Carolina; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York City; Arnold Friedman House, Pecos, New Mexico; Herman T. Mossberg House, South Bend, Indiana; Kenneth Laurent House, Rockford, Illinois; Unitarian Church, Shorewood Hills, Wisconsin; David Wright House, Phoenix, Arizona; William Palmer House, Ann Arbor, Michigan; Isadore J. Zimmerman House, Manchester, New Hampshire; H.C. Price Company Tower, Bartlesville, Oklahoma; Harold Price, Sr. House, Paradise Valley, Arizona; Gerald B. Tonkens House, Amberley Village, Ohio; Beth Sholom Synagogue, Elkins Park, Pennsylvania; Don M. Stromquist House, Bountiful, Utah; Marin County Civic Center, San Rafael, California; Taliesin III, Spring Green, Wisconsin; and Taliesin West, Scottsdale, Arizona.
After you finish enjoying this book the first time, ask yourself what has been Mr. Wright's lasting impact on America. How has his work affected your life? How will it affect your grandchildren's lives?
Turn an optimistic view of people living in natural harmony into reality!