An extraordinary group of glass plates and other negatives documenting the early work of Frank Lloyd Wright has been acquired by OA+D Archives.
The collection is comprised of one-hundred and seventy glass plate negatives and fifty-two film negatives (222 images total) with interior and exterior views of seminally important Wright buildings, exhibition installations, and several portraits of the architect. The majority of the images were photographed by the early 20th century photography studio of Henry Fuermann and Sons.
In describing the significance of these photographs, noted Wright historian Kathryn Smith said:
"It is almost certain that Wright commissioned the Fuermanns and directed the photography at the site with them. The negatives represent Wright’s intentions of how he wanted his architecture to be portrayed. These rare views are like Wright talking to us."
"These unique surviving glass negatives include the evolution of the Prairie House from Willits house to the Robie House with the Hickox, Thomas, and Coonley houses as well as Unity Temple in between. All three Taliesins, the Coonley Playhouse, and Midway Gardens are well represented. When Wright made a visual record of his first 20 years of practice in the Wasmuth photobook almost all images were by Fuermann and Sons. Wright was recognized in Europe as the first modern architect by Mies, Gropius, and Rietveld only through these photographs."
OA+D Archives wants to make these important historical images available to researchers on the internet for the first time. Because OA+D Archives has acquired the original media for these early Wright photographs, the plates and film negatives can be scanned at high resolution. Enlargements can be made to permit inspection of significant details not readily visible in existing prints.
FOR THIS TO HAPPEN THEY NEED YOUR HELP!
OA+D is asking generous donors to contribute $150 towards digitizing each negative. Please consider "adopting" one or more of the photographs to support their online presentation on the OA+D Archives website. For each image whose processing you sponsor, your name will be added to the permanent online catalog display in honor of your contribution.
The OA+D Archives is a federally recognized 501c3 non-profit. Donate to this great cause — it is 100% tax deductible!
Taliesin West, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1930s, was his winter home and studio as well as an artist commune and school. Set in the brow of the McDowell Mountains and desert, its flat buildings, adobe, wood, and desert-rock walls mixed with concrete glide and drift over dozens of acres like a rattlesnake, here and there reaching to the blue sky like a saguaro, the cactuses that look like trees but also like abstract, angular sculptures — don’t touch.
Taliesin West’s unassuming. It complements the landscape of desert and mountains so well that it appears to flow organically from them. It deceives on this one point and isn’t at all ostentatious. Wright was not without ego and was America’s first “starchitect,” but even his calling-card buildings, such as the Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum, take their cues from their settings, not a maker’s lust for a monument to himself.
Wright designed more than a thousand buildings, many not built, but his conceptions and details are there, and his drawings are as revelatory as an Italian old master’s. His career started at the end of the horse-and-buggy era and the dawn of the skyscraper’s and ended in the space age.
First of all, who’s Taliesin? It means “shining brow” and named, more to the point, a Welsh poet and shaman, possibly from the sixth century — a house bard to Welsh kings, possibly serving King Arthur — and writer of the Book of Taliesin, which seems to have been discovered after the siege and surrender of a castle belonging to Henry VI’s wife, Margaret of Anjou, in 1467. Set in the Otherworld, the book’s kings and queens rise and fall in bloody wars among heroes, villains, monks, prophets, and packs of wild dogs.
Wright was Welsh — hence the attraction to Welsh bards — and drawn to epics not only in lore but in his own life. In 1911, already famous for his Prairie style houses and Unity Temple, he began to develop farmland in Spring Green in rural Wisconsin, not far from where he was born and raised in a chaotic, impoverished home. This compound, which he called “Taliesin,” was his home and studio and, over time, his school for budding architects from around 1911 until his death.
The name “Taliesin West” suggests a subsidiary, but it’s far from it. The Wisconsin site, today a historic site and house museum, isn’t called “Taliesin East.” Wright was peripatetic and, from the time he built Taliesin until well into the ’30s, lived wherever he had big projects. At 70, he had both Taliesin and Taliesin West. He lived and worked almost entirely at Taliesin during the spring, summer, and fall and, not too long after Thanksgiving, moved kit and kaboodle to Scottsdale until after Easter.
Taliesin West started as a winter camp in 1938, after he had bought the land and attracted apprentice architects to join him or to learn from him in exchange for food and lodging. It feels like a camp. Wright designed the place as he lived and worked there. The core buildings are arranged as a grid with paths oriented toward desert and mountain views, not only for the scenery but to absorb the ethnographic mystery of the place. There are a couple of modest towers. The overall look’s horizontal, in relationship to the land.
The paths are processional, too, leading from Wright’s studio and office to classrooms, drafting studios, an auditorium, apartments, gardens, loggias, a dining room, sunrises, and sunsets. The roofs were originally canvas until Wright, sick of rain, which happens in the desert, installed gutters and redwood boards. By 1941, the basic compound was mostly finished. Glass windows, the auditorium, and electricity came in the late ’40s and early ’50s. Wright placed stones marked by local, centuries-old petroglyphs here and there.
Both exterior and interior walls are made of the desert-rock-and-concrete mix Wright developed. Seeing natural vertical grooves in the mountains, he told masons to put vertical blocks made of wood in the wet concrete. Voilà. When the blocks were removed, Wright had vertical grooves complementing what nature made.
Taliesin West is a total work of art. Wright designed it to create what he believed was the best environment for life, work, leisure, and learning. It’s the best kind of house museum in that it feels like Wright and his crew just went away for a bit but would come back soon.
The Bogk House on Milwaukee, Wisconsin's East Side has been sold to "a pair of Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts," according to realtor Melissa LeGrand of @properties elleven Christie’s International Real Estate.
The sale of the beautiful 1917 house that famed Wisconsin architect Wright designed for businessman and politician Frederick C. Bogk, 2420 N. Terrace Ave., closed on Thursday. The house sold for $1.7 million, including the furniture collection assembled by long-time homeowner Barbara Elsner.
The Bogk House was listed for sale in September with Christie’s International Real Estate by the Elsner family, which owned it since 1955. By mid-November, the property, which had an asking price of $1.5 million, with the furniture offered for another $900,000, was under contract.
The furniture collection put together by the Elsners includes, according to the realtor, "original Wright-designed furniture, which was sold with the home in an exclusive collaboration with Christie’s auction house." It also includes a number of original pieces that Wright designed specifically for the home, objects from Wright’s Heritage Henredon collection and pieces commissioned by the Taliesin Architects. If it were not sold with the home, the collection was to be auctioned off by Christie's.
“This furniture collection is truly one of a kind, and we’re thrilled that the buyers of the Bogk House are honoring Wright’s vision and choosing to keep the collection with the home," says Christie’s Senior Vice President Michael Jefferson. "We’re pleased with the outcome of this sale and partnership with Christie’s International Real Estate.”
The new owners, says LeGrand, plan to maintain the home's history.
“We are delighted to have facilitated the sale of the Frederick C. Bogk House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architectural masterpieces,” she says. “The new owners understand that this home is a work of art and a true part of American history, and they are looking forward to stewarding it through its next phase.”