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Frank Lloyd Wright (Critical Lives) Paperback – June 1, 2006

4.8 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Of all the books that have appeared in the last 10 years on Frank Lloyd Wright and his architecture, this is the one that will last. It is in all ways comprehensive: its text is as organized and complete as a set of blueprints; its striking pictures of projects as small as the modest Usonian houses or as grand as the Guggenheim Museum are arranged in order by the visual information they reveal about each project; and even its copyediting is noticeably coherent, with dates just where one expects such details to be, in the first picture captions for each project. The book as a whole is so carefully conceived that, reading it, one knows exactly where to look for any particular bit of history. And while, for casual readers, the essays may offer too much to digest at first, Robert McCarter's prose is agile and passionate. "Wright understood buildings to be the background or framework for human existence," he writes. "Architecture gave dignity to daily life." --Margaret Moorman --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

This book is not a biography of Frank Lloyd Wright but rather an investigation into Wright's philosophy of design and space. McCarter (architecture, Univ. of Florida) dulls his attempt, however, by writing a chronological narrative in the irritating manner of a tour guide, using the first-person plural "we." The reader is bombarded with descriptions of sizes and shapes of rooms and hallways, heights of ceilings, and textures of concrete slabs; there is so much minutiae that it is impossible to see the theory through the clutter. The book is filled with beautiful photographs and illustrations, as most books on Wright's works are, but they do not aid in the tour, and often we are left to our own imagination concerning the appearances of rooms and their decor. The author does offer valid insights into Wright's philosophy, but these expositions are buried under page after page of details. More discussion and less description would have greatly improved this book. Recommended only for specialized architectural and interior design libraries; general collections should consider Neil Levine's The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (LJ 6/1/96).?Glenn Masuchika, Chaminade Univ. Lib., Honolulu
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Critical Lives
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books; 1st UK Edition 1st Printing edition (June 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861892683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861892683
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.7 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,450,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Oustanding commentary, well researched and insightful. The text here is mighty different from other commentaries on Wright, and feels much more substantive. Ony con: not enough images + some floorplans are reproduced too small to read clearly. - not a photo overview, a study on the man.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a great book, not only as a reference for FLW's work, divided into sections of building type, containing hundreds of great photographs and drawings of his works (about 20 on Fallingwater alone), by which you can really get to know his work in detail. Because it's so visually rich, it is also a reference for constrution techniques and details (and, as you know, FLW is a very echletic architect). The text is very well written and covers everything related to each work, like clients' reviews, technical specifications, the story of the building, and so forth. I recommend it to anyone interested in architecture and FLW.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a non-specialist who is admittedly rather ignorant of architectural history, this book was perfect for me. It avoids both excessive detail and incomprehensible jargon, yet covers the principal steps in Wright's 60-year career. I really got an idea of what he did and accomplished and what was so unique about it, which was exactly what I hoped to find. (McCarter's other book on FLW is huge with such long descriptions of interiors that I felt intimidated to open it.)

Essentially, Wright approached his buildings as personal works of art designed for the purchaser after long conversations on their desires (with a few glaring exceptions, due to a sudden excess of FLW's arrogance). He designed them from the inside out, with the greatest attention to detail as total works of art down to the furniture and even the clothes of residents, kind of like Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk, but for living space and quality of life. He also strove to orient them wrt the sun and other natural contours of the landscape. The range of buildings is far too complex and varied to describe here, of course, and I could have used more pics in the text to supplement McCarter's wonderful descriptions (easily available on the internet). I finally get it and will study his legacy in greater detail. Also, many of his homes were designed for the middle class, rather than exclusively for an aristocracy of the rich.

The wider context is also covered in just the right detail, that is, how Sullivan mentored Wright; how Wright rebelled against the neo-classical fashion as exemplified by the great Burnham; how he hated Corbusier, Mies van der Rowe, and Gropius.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I've read many books on Frank LLoyd Wright. This is perhaps the best biography of him, yet!
I would rank Frank LLoyd Wright and His Manner of Thought by Jerome Klinkowitz as no. 2
Both excellent.
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