Guggenheim Museum Celebrates Frank Lloyd Wright – From Within Outward
Fifty years after the realization of Frank Lloyd Wright’s renowned design, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum celebrates the golden anniversary of its landmark building with the exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, co-organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. On view from May 15 through August 23, 2009, the 50th anniversary exhibition brings together 64 projects designed by one of the most influential architects of the 20th century, including privately commissioned residences, civic and government buildings, religious and performance spaces, as well as unrealized urban mega-structures.
Presented on the spiral ramps of Wright’s museum through a range of media—including more than 200 original Frank Lloyd Wright drawings, many of which are on view to the public for the first time, as well as newly commissioned models and digital animations—Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward illuminates Wright’s pioneering concepts of space and reveals the architect’s continuing relevance to contemporary design.
The exhibition takes its title from Frank Lloyd Wright’s musings on the importance of interior space in shaping and informing a structure’s exterior. “The building is no longer a block of building material dealt with, artistically, from the outside,” Wright said. “The room within is the great fact about building—the room to be expressed in the exterior as space enclosed.” Few designs in Wright’s oeuvre so well illustrate the concept of designing “from within outward” as the Guggenheim Museum, in which the interior form gives shape to the exterior shell of the building.
Richard Armstrong, Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and Museum, stated, “Fifty years ago, the trajectories of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Frank Lloyd Wright became intertwined. When it opened in October 1959, the museum drew both criticism and admiration, but what was indisputable was that Wright had reinvented the art museum.” Armstrong continued, “How fitting that we open our fiftieth-anniversary celebrations with Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward, an exhibition that documents and challenges how architecture influences the way we live and how we experience art.”
During his 72-year career, Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959), who died just six months before the opening of the Guggenheim, worked independently from any single style and developed a new sense of architecture in which form and function are inseparable. Known for his inventiveness and the diversity of his work, Wright is celebrated for the awe-inspiring beauty and tranquility of his designs. Whether creating a private home, workplace, religious edifice, or cultural attraction, Wright sought to unite people, buildings, and nature in physical and spiritual harmony. To realize such a union in material form, Wright created environments of simplicity and repose through carefully composed plans and elevations based on consistent, geometric grammars.
Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward is organized in a loosely chronological order and is installed to be viewed from the rotunda floor upwards. Off the first ramp in the High Gallery is an original curtain depicting Wright’s native Wisconsin landscape from the 1952 Hillside Theater at Taliesin, Wright’s home and studio in Spring Green, Wisconsin (1911–59). On loan from Taliesin, this curtain creates the backdrop for a sound installation of recorded oral histories from the collection of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, which feature the voices of clients, friends, apprentices, and architects reflecting on the revelatory experience of living and working in Wright-designed spaces.
Highlights of Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward include newly created three-dimensional scale models that examine the internal mechanics of functional space in relation to exterior form in a variety of Wright’s projects. Among these are an exploded version of the Herbert Jacobs House (Madison, Wisconsin, 1937); a mirrored model for Unity Temple; and a sectional model of Beth Sholom Synagogue (Elkins Park, Pennsylvania, 1953). Large-scale models of unrealized urban schemes for projects, including his Plan for Greater Baghdad (1957), the Crystal City for Washington, D.C. (1940), and the Pittsburgh Point Civic Center (1947), provide insight into Wright’s visions for the landscapes of the city. The models were developed by Michael Kennedy of New York–based Kennedy Fabrications Inc., which specializes in architectural models and prototyping, and Situ Studio, a Brooklyn-based firm focused on research, design, and fabrication.
The Legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright In 1990, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum was declared a landmark by the New York City Landmark Preservation Commission and in 2005 was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. On October 7, 2008, the Interior Secretary of the United States named the Guggenheim a National Historic Landmark in recognition of the museum’s significance within American history and culture. UNESCO World Heritage Center also is considering Wright’s legacy: ten of the architect’s most relevant buildings, including the Guggenheim Museum, Taliesin, and Taliesin West, his home and studio in Scottsdale and the headquarters of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, have recently been included on the United States’ World Heritage Tentative List, which identifies the most significant cultural and natural treasures worldwide.
With its legacy grounded in the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Guggenheim is dedicated to exploring the connections between design, architecture, and other forms of art, especially in the context of the city. Design exhibitions organized by the Guggenheim have included the 2001 retrospective of the work of architect Frank Gehry, which became the most attended show in the history of the New York museum, and a retrospective of the work of architect Zaha Hadid in 2006. With such projects at the forefront, the Guggenheim has initiated the development of a broad program in which architecture and design become a means of expression to document, divert, and direct our increasingly urban societies.
Exhibition Tour Following the presentation of Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, the exhibition will travel to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in Bilbao, Spain, where it will be on view from October 6, 2009 through February 2010.
Publications Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward is accompanied by a fully illustrated exhibition catalogue published by Skira/Rizzoli. With forewords by Phil Allsopp, Richard Armstrong, and Thomas Krens, the catalogue will include essays by Wright scholars Richard Cleary, Neil Levine, Mina Marefat, Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, Joseph M. Siry, and Margo Stipe.
In addition to the exhibition catalogue, The Guggenheim: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Making of the Modern Museum will be published on the occasion of museum’s fiftieth anniversary and in association with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation. This first-ever book to explore the 16-year construction process behind one of the greatest modern buildings in America will examine the history, design, and construction of Wright’s masterwork. Fully illustrated with preliminary drawings, models, and photographs, the book includes three major essays by Hillary Ballon, Neil Levine and Joseph Siry.