St Marks Drawing Sequence

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SDR
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by SDR »

JimM contributes this image of the Coonley plate:


Image

Photograph © Dean Eastman

Tom
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by Tom »

WOW.
I think this is 1907.
Before the European “influence” and almost 20 years before the St Marks tower designs.

Tom
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by Tom »

This is a very clear example of what many Wright followers know implicitly and what Alofsin makes explicit in The Lost Years - that Wright saw three dimensionally into two dimensional ornamental pattern, something Sullivan, or hardly anybody else ever came close to.

SDR
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by SDR »

Are you sure ?

Image

http://wendycitychicago.com/the-story-o ... ott-store/

What I find odd is that Sullivan's ornament---in particular, an example like this one---is not more often compared to l'Art Nouveau . . .

S

Tom
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by Tom »

I was not clear enough.
Alofsin's point is that Wright saw architecturally into the patterns of ornament. No longer surface application it becomes a question of 'scale life' and concept or "germ" Like children seeing cities and animals in cloud forms, Wright saw buildings in the patterns of ornament.
Alofsin gets into this most in The Lost Years chapter 5, sub heading : Wright's Theory of Conventionalization.
... and I think, although Alofsin doesn't say, this is one way to distinguish Wright's work and work that follows Wright, from the direction that European modernism took.

Roderick Grant
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by Roderick Grant »

Tom, I think you are exactly correct. And FLW said as much repeatedly, although sometimes peripherally.

"Before the European "influence"...." If you imply what I think you imply, FLW's kreuz doesn't include the haken.

SDR
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by SDR »

But it does, read literally, raise the question, "Which comes first, the building or the ornament ?"

S

Roderick Grant
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by Roderick Grant »

Architecture from nature is always abstract and general. The design of a building is specific to a purpose, with ornament deriving organically in abstract form. I believe FLW saw geometry in nature in actuality. It could be argued that he was primarily a geometer.

SDR
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by SDR »

I agree---and it is that quality that most endears him to me. I won't say that devotion to the received tools of the trade---T-square and triangles---amounts to "designing in the nature of materials" (though he himself was quite plain about their influence on his work)---but it would make perfect sense to me if that was the conclusion drawn (as it were !).

The cube (rarely found as such in nature but not unheard-of) is man's abstraction of the universe, of the ubiquitous language we call mathematics; it is the self-justifying answer to the question "how shall man live, and work, and express himself." And so are the other Platonic solids and the plane figures too; the straight line itself, when manifested, is man's work, his reflection of the laws of physics, his first step toward building. The horizontal plane best suits his needs in a world where the presence of gravity (and the implied vertical axis which is its corollary, its response) holds sway. Mr Wright would have found these things whether Froebel had been born or not; they preceded him. The young Wright would have found them soon enough, in the Engineering Department at the University of Wisconsin, at Silsbee's office, in every building to which he turned his gaze.

S

Tom
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by Tom »

Yes to the geometer.
There is a 1927 print edition of Sullivans book on the system of ornament in Wright's library.
Pinterest has a few collection of plates from that book.
I'd love to have a copy, but prices seem to range from $400 -$900.

https://www.pinterest.com/gilesphillips ... %2C%201923

SDR
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by SDR »

Thanks for that. Sullivan certainly had a way with the pencil, and his "system" deserves the respect it garnered from its inception. It would be difficult to argue, nevertheless, that the results that he got---his particular forms---are not wholly irrelevant to the decoration of architecture today. The same cannot be said of Wright's decorative schemes and their forms, I think. (Some have asserted, moreover, that Sullivan's ornament was largely irrelevant to his own architecture, with Carson Pirie being a prime example. But that's not the point of our discussion. The "sampler" of ornamental patterns marching up the Wainright tower, a different one on each floor, is charming and humanizes what was seen as a stark building form, I suppose.)

Brian Kelly's commentary on the WendyCity piece is interesting . . .

S

Tom
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by Tom »

This too.
Alofsin shows that Owen Jones, in the 19th century, thought that modern architecture would find renewed foundations in ornament.
Evidently in the Autobiography Wright says he used Jones in his early work.
Here's an interesting article on Jones:

https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/owen-jon ... 88&slide=0

SDR
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Re: St Marks Drawing Sequence

Post by SDR »

When I noticed today, for the first time, in the video of the John Christian house linked elsewhere here, that the upper roof did not receive the ornamental copper fascia given to the larger and lower roof, I had questions. Was this by design---or did the expense of this adornment prohibit Dr Christian from adding it where it might not be seen ? So I consulted the drawings---and indeed Mr Wright explicitly eliminated the wrought fascia from the upper roof.

So---this "integral ornament," essential to a design as asserted elsewhere by the architect, is only essential to the building where it will be noticed ? And why would Samara be so decorated, when most other flat-roofed Usonians of this scale did without---and when the Christians approached Wright hat in hand, with "no money," right at the start ? (Dr Christian had to wait until 1991, twenty-five years after initial construction, to add the fascia.) I will be shocked---shocked !---to learn that such filigree is the work of whimsey on the part of the architect . . .!


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