The sprawling show features almost 400 works by the American master, ranging from drawings, models, furniture and print media all the way to tableware and pieces of buildings. It was sparked by the herculean task of ushering the archive’s more than 55,000 drawings, 125,000 photos, and much more from Taliesen West to MoMA.
Revelation comes regularly as you explore the 12 divided sections of the show – focusing on drawings and abstract representations over photographs – from his well-documented experiments in ornament, structure, and building systems to his relatively unknown research in urbanism and farming. Other galleries touch on landscape, the Native American-inspired Nakoma Golf Club near Madison, Wicsonsin, and his proposed blade-like mile high tower for Chicago, meant to shore up his bonifides as he lobbied to take part in the city’s building boom.
As you chew on the seemingly endless themes, it’s impossible not to marvel at the skill and seduction of the drawings and artifacts, from a surprising neoclassical competition rendering for the Milwaukee Public Library in the 1890s to the space aged, dome and bubble concoctions of the 1950s. Everything is art: elaborate and colorful architectural sections and plans are just as much artwork as the intricate stained glass windows, hexagonal chairs, and concentric-sphere murals nearby. All is unified, wondrously held together through Wright’s organic ideals and his commitment to (whether his clients liked it or not) total design.