Frank Lloyd Wright The Masterworks
by Alexander O. Boulton, Rizzoli, 128 pages.
by Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer and David Larkin, Rizzoli, 312 pages.
Published just in advance of an enormous retrospective of Frank Lloyd Wright’s work soon to open at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, two new books offer wonderfully illuminating and complementary views of the architect’s life and career. Alexander Boulton gives a swiftly drawn sketch of America’s greatest architect that speaks with warmth and directness to the forces that shaped Wright, beginning with the valley near Spring Green, Wisconsin, where his family settled and which, Wright would later say, “taught him everything.” The text is heightened by excellent drawings and photos. You might carry this book as a guide to the blockbuster exhibit in New York or on a visit to any one of the number of Wright houses open to the public, for a sense of what to look for and, perhaps best of all, for a new way of seeing. “Human houses should not be like boxes,” Wright explained. “Any building for humane purposes should be an elemental, sympathetic feature of the ground, complementary to its nature-environment, belonging by kinship to the terrain.”
The Masterworks contains oversized, sumptuous spreads of some of those houses. You can virtually walk through the book’s pages into the rooms of thirty-eight of Wright’s greatest buildings, including several photographed in color for the first time. Each house and public or commercial structure is shown through a succession of stages—from its earliest plans and elevations to its final, burnished glory.