Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibit at the Guggenheim

When I left my previous employer, my team gave me a GREAT going away present - a one year membership to the Guggenheim! Woot! I hadn't been to the Guggenheim in FOREVER, so I was thrilled to get it!

I was having a bit of a lazy weekend, so I decided to go and check out the current exhibit: Frank Lloyd Wright. With my wonderful membership card, I sailed right past the huge lines and got my ticket to enter. I can't decide whether I like the layout of the museum or not. I definitely can appreciate that it's easier to go through the exhibit and the curator has total control over what order the viewer is seeing the pieces, while also taking "breaks" and going into the gallery rooms, but I think it's a little overwhelming. I may have felt this way though because the exhibit itself, which were sketches and models of Wright's designs, required a lot of brain power, in my opinion, because you really need to examine the details and really understand what you're seeing - as opposed to seeing huge pieces of abstract art (in my humble, non-artistic opinion). I much prefer museum layouts like the Met, where you can easily digest the exhibits by picking which rooms to go to and not feel pressured to see it all.

In any case, the exhibit was amazing! I don't know much about architecture but I can definitely appreciate Wright's clean lines and measured designs. If you know me at all, you know that this is something that captivates me. Also, his handwriting was soooo perfect! I can very much respect that.

Most of the sketches were of commercial buildings, with some residential buildings. Some were built but a good amount of them were unrealized plans, like his city plan of Baghdad complete with an opera house and cultural center. There were lots of sketches of religious edifices as well, which were really interesting to me, because you can see what exactly he wanted the congregation to experience. Some of the pulpits were on ground level with pews in balconies, some were all on one level, some only had front entrances...etc.

All of the descriptions of the buildings were fascinating and they were great in conveying exactly what Wright was thinking when he designed all of them - why he used certain materials, why he used open spaces in a room...etc. It makes me want to be an architect! It's such a thoughtful art that is really intentional and most people don't even realize it! In fact, a lot of the descriptions reminded me of The Fountainhead, which made the exhibit even more poignant for me. Of course when I got home, I wikipedia-ed Frank Lloyd Wright, and lo and behold, there is a lot of speculation that Ayn Rand used Wright as a model for the protagonist in her book. I'm so glad I had a chance to read the book before the exhibit because it makes me understand and appreciate architecture that much more!

His work is also comparable to my all-time favorite architect, Tadao Ando. If you're not familiar with his work, I recommend checking him out as well. They both work with the natural surroundings of the building and instead of disturbing the landscape, they have their buildings be an extension of the surroundings. They both use really clean lines and basic materials and take space to a whole new level, in my opinion.

Here is my favorite Ando design:

The Church of Light in Osaka

Okay, now I'll get off my high-horse and finish this long-winded and boring post. But the point is, I DEFINITELY recommend it. DEFINITELY DEFINITELY DEFINITELY!!! It's so amazing that I'm planning on going back before it ends on August 23rd.

Lastly, here is the picture I snuck in before a security guard yelled at me:


  1. Shi, great post. We'll have to go check this out - I love Frank Lloyd Wright!

  2. Related note - did you know that Frank Lloyd Wright originally intended for the exterior of the Guggenheim to be red? http://gothamist.com/2009/06/26/guggenheim_1.php

  3. Oh I know! I read that article in the Times. It would've had such a completely different vibe to it, had it been the color he intended. very interesting...