Libeskind on Wright

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Duncan
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Libeskind on Wright

Post by Duncan »


Tom
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Post by Tom »

Nice tribute

Tom
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Post by Tom »

In the piece he talks about being impressed by the horizontal space in
Wright's work, and sees this as American.
He says it's different in Europe.
I wish he would have described what architectural space in Europe is like.
Would have been interesting to hear that.

Tom
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Post by Tom »

From the article:

"It was the horizontality of Wright’s buildings that made such a big impression – they established for me this very American idea of space, very different from the European conception."

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Take a sheet of paper, lay it flat on the table.
Take another sheet of paper, crumple it, and lay it next to the first sheet.
That's the difference between Europe and the American Great Plains.
Over there one must go to the Steppes of Russia to find anything comparable to the Prairie.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

A common human failing is to generalize from a specific. In this case, it sounds like Mr Libeskind observed Wright's work and from it drew an over-broad conclusion that this is what characterized American architecture. Kind of silly, really, isn't it ?

S

Tom
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Post by Tom »

The first time I went to Europe as an adult I flew into Munich.
The descending flight path was low, and gradual.
Skies were blue and crystal clear.
I got a good long look at how the southern Germans
organize their countryside and suburbs.
Nothing was out of place. Obvious from an airplane!
... and obviously different from my experience.
... haven't thought of that in a long time.

Reidy
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Post by Reidy »

Vincent Scully touches on this in his 1960 book:

"The importance of the Willits House as an image of modern times can best be shown by contrasting it with a sixteenth-centurh central plan where cross axes were used. In Palladio's Villa Rotonda the center of the house is a cylindrical void, rather than Wright's massive solid. Thus, in the Palladian design, the human being can occupy the center of he house; in Wright's, he is in flow around an already occupied center. From the Palladian central space doors upon all four sides allow long axial vistas for the view. But there can be little sense of compulsion to move toward those views, because the central void rises high above the side openings and creates a stable, vertical volume of space which dramatizes the upright human being at the center and keeps him fixed where he is. Finally, the exterior cube contains the whole. In Wright's house the occupant's eye is compelled to move out to the horizontal, and he is himself in a space which is only just high enough to allow him to stand upright in it, so that he will eagerly seek out the long, serene horizontals which offer the euphoria of his only spatial release. The light, too, gently draws his attention as he sits near the fireplace, in a dimness like that of the early colonial houses, and it is led out toward the comparative, but still muted, brightness of the tinted window bands and the voids of the porches.

"The Palladian plan is an excellent expression of a pre-industrial, humanistic world where the human being occupied a fixed, central position. The Wright plan is an image of modern man, caught up in a constant change and flow, holding on, if he feels he must, to whatever seems solid, but no longer regarding himself as the center of the world. Wright's is most of all a specifically American image. The axes are like country cross roads in the boundless prairie..."

David Gebhard draws a contrast between Schindler's home and Wright's in that Wright moved out to the country, surrounded by miles of open land, whereas Schindler, as a European, moved to a close-in suburb and floor-planned everything inside and out.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Nuggets of info or opinion re Wright's (and others') design moves and motifs are always welcome. Grant Hildebrand quotes Scully on the Heurtley (p 35) and Coonley (pp 45, 147) houses---for better or worse.

He also presents this passage by Thomas Beeby on Heurtley:

"The dim light of the interior also suggests the perpetual twilight of the underworld or that of a shallow cave. The entire arrangement heightens this
sense, for the continuous flow of space is detailed to accentuate the horizontality of the surfaces, evoking the stratification of the rock walls of a
cave formed by erosion. The continuity of finish between wall and ceiling approaches the monolithic material distribution familiar in caves. This
illusion is further heightened by the rising slope of the ceiling planes toward the center of the rooms. The overall impression is that of the sheltering
confines of the prenatal condition of the womb that is symbolized by the void of a cave."

Quoted from Thomas H Beeby, "Wright and Landscape: A Mythical Interpretation," in Bolon, Nelson, and Seidel, eds, The Nature of Frank Lloyd Wright, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988), p 170.

S

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

FLW's architecture would undoubtedly have taken a different path if the electric light bulb had been invented and in wide use - even in Richland Center - before he had been born. Much of his dimly lighted interiors owe their existence to the nature of interiors everywhere on Earth prior to electric lighting, not to mention plate glass. Yet I think it is a good thing that he grew up without fear of shadows; his use of dark and light enhanced his work.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Hildebrand (p 45) quotes Scully and Jay Appleton ("The Experience of Landscape," 1975)---who in turn channels Konrad Lorenz---on the experience of moving through the Coonley house:

"The separate pavilions are interwoven by long, heavily framed corridors, and the low ceilings sail on seemingly endlessly . . ." and, "The rich alleys and byways
provide us with vistas which every now and then widen into little panoramas . . . like woodland paths leading between glades . . .", pausing before we "break
though the last bushes and out of cover on to the free expanse of the meadow" to gain "the advantage which it can offer to hunter and hunted---namely, to see
without being seen."

Looking with new eyes at vintage Coonley interiors, we notice the lowered light levels near the fireplace, and the vegetative wall decor, while beyond is a pool of natural illumination descending from the patterned skylight over a stairwell.

http://rubens.anu.edu.au/htdocs/laserdi ... /23200.JPG

(Could that be a little sumac sprout, levitating horizontally above its container, at left ?)

S

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Scully has taken the comparison too far. The difference between FLW and Palladio is procession.

Classical architecture for the moneyed elite of 16th century Italy was about grand procession, where architecture proclaimed wealth and power. Vistas such as Villa Rotunda has were not merely charming views, but displays of the extent of the owner's land holdings. The domed central room was probably used exclusively for such gatherings, being a bit overwhelming for casual family doings, like a game of cards in jeans and flip-flops. "Gin!"

Procession in FLW's work was about revealing the public areas gradually from the main entrance to the fireplace, where the family gathered and invited friends for an intimate visit. It is about the house and the quality of the space as human habitation. His materials were humble. He eschewed marble.

SDR
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Post by SDR »

Gesundheit !

S

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