Any Recognize this Usonian Window

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toastedskin
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:12 am

Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by toastedskin »

I wonder whether anyone recognize where this possible Usonian windown may be from. The auction claims a New Jersey Usonian, but doesn't seem to match the four New Jerssey Usonians of which I am aware. Appreciate any help. Thank you

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/10 ... ntent=item

https://www.liveauctioneers.com/item/10 ... ntent=item

DRN
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Location: Cherry Hill, NJ

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by DRN »

YES!!!
That is an originally installed perforated board (perf)from the James Christie house in Bernardsville NJ. These perfs were removed sometime after the House was sold in the late 1940’s.
The originally installed perfs at Christie were identical to the perfs planned for Wright’s unbuilt Usonian exhibition house for MoMA in 1940. It is theorized the exhibition house perfs may have been fabricated before the exhibition house was cancelled, possibly explaining why the as designed Christie perfs were not made and installed.

In a later build of the originally designed owners bedroom and bath at Christie in the 1990’s, a few of the originally designed but never made perfs were fabbed and installed in the addition.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by SDR »

Bravo. The Christie drawings at Artstor do not include a perf drawing, unfortunately, but an elevation sheet does indicate perfs, with a place-holder design sketched in.

Here is the perf drawing for the New York Exhibition House, from "The Show to End All Shows" (© 2004, The Museum of Modern Art):

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And here is the Christie perf presently on offer. This is the back face, with screws to hold the two halves of the sash together, sandwiching the glass. Note the grain of the plywood running vertically:

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Christie elevations:

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SDR
Posts: 20382
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by SDR »

Dan provides documentation of the perfs that were originally installed at Christie. He also found the elevation drawing of the perf design on the Christie CDs, which I missed. The perfs sketched on the elevation drawings can be seen to relate to the perf as shown on the sheet; the tilted rectangle of glass that spans the interruption in the perf band is found on both drawings and on a built version of that design that was installed at the house in the 1990ss, as described by Dan.


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SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by SDR »

Dan, I need help interpreting this sentence: "It is theorized the exhibition house perfs may have been fabricated before the exhibition house was cancelled, possibly explaining why the as designed Christie perfs were not made and installed."

S

DRN
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Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by DRN »

Harold Turner was building the Christie house and Suntop in ‘39-‘40. Wright tapped him to build the MoMA Usonian exhibition house as well, which was ultimately cancelled. It has been theorized that the MoMA perfs found their way across the river to Bernardsville via Turner... some or all possibly as ready mades for the cancelled MoMA, to finish the Christie house.

toastedskin
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Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:12 am

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by toastedskin »

thank you to each of you for your helpful information

Reidy
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Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by Reidy »

There's a similar story about Frank and Lloyd in LA. He left Lloyd to oversee Storer, Freeman and Ennis when he moved back to Wisconsin, and the blocks (or at least the molds) found their way into some of Lloyd's houses. Taggart, for example, uses Ennis blocks in an outdoor walkway / trellis.

Roderick Grant
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Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by Roderick Grant »

There was a sizable stack of Storer blocks behind Lloyd's own house, but he never used them in that residence.

SDR
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Location: San Francisco

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by SDR »

My favorite perf design is the unrealized one for the Goetsch-Winckler house. On various elevation drawings can be seen three images of perfs (if you include some exceptionally messy scribbled-in placeholders), while an isolated fourth, not found on a drawing, was cut into the face of the tool locker in the carport.

The only complete design is the unique one composed only of horizontal and vertical lines---a square and a cross---in a composition that (quite unusually) syncopates itself across the horizontal plan unit. It might be argued that this perf relates more specifically to its host structure than does any other.

Virtually no formal coordination is to be found in the Usonian perf designs, between a perf and the house that it decorates. I believe it is fair to say that the perfs on the whole might be interchanged with each other without noticeable effect on the artistic whole; that the designs are essentially interchangeable (within the constraints of a given opening size). The unbuilt GW perf, with its square-and-cross figure, seems perfectly suited to the restrained and wholly orthogonal composition of the house itself.

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photos © B Korab

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photo © Y Futagawa

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photo © Simon Clay

toastedskin
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:12 am

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by toastedskin »

You have proven so helpful, I have one more question. What color/shade of stain was normally applied to the perfs? Was there a standard stain or did it differ from house to house? Thank you

DRN
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Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by DRN »

Wright’s initial idea of the exterior wood of a Usonian house was to leave it alone to naturally weather to a silver grey...he stated in his book The Natural House that “wood best preserves itself”. This did not work well in many situations as the wood was bleached by the sun and in some cases, weathered to splitting in some climates and exposures.

Wright eventually recommended linseed oil at exteriors, then at later houses, specified clear treatments such as ““Durable Woods Exterior Finish” mf’d by Breinig Bros. Of Hoboken, NJ or equal”. Wright wanted the grain and texture of the wood visible in all cases. Staining or painting of the exterior wood typically resulted from owners attempting a longer lasting and less labor intensive treatment.

Interiors of Usonians were typically to be treated with white shellac thinned with alcohol.

Shellac darkens over time with exposure to the sun. The pics of the perf are hard for me to read but the finish may be darkened shellac.

toastedskin
Posts: 15
Joined: Sat Apr 10, 2021 8:12 am

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by toastedskin »

Thank you for the helpful response.

Roderick Grant
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Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by Roderick Grant »

G/W proves that, however delightful they may be, perfs are not necessary. Christie and Baird are also sans perfs and delightful. Perfs were not even intended for Baird. On the other hand, while perfs were intended for Brandes, it was built without them; they were added much later. In this case, I believe the perfs add significantly. In the cases of houses such as Bachman-Wilson and Gordon, perfs perform a more prominent role, and the houses would suffer without them.

There are all sorts of theories about the patterns and what they mean, none of which ideas have ever registered with me. I believe FLW just did them on the reflex, without trying to send any message to the Mother Ship.

SDR
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Re: Any Recognize this Usonian Window

Post by SDR »

That all makes perfect sense to me. The remaining question would be, how many perf designs are known to be Wright's work ? Did he often, or ever, delegate that task, along with many others, to the apprentices as led by Jack Howe et al ? Roderick is one of the few who own the Monographs which contain preliminary sketches. I have almost never seen rough sketches of perf designs. While the scribbled place-holders on some Usonian elevation drawings are perhaps his work, are there any more definite perf studies or designs which appear to be in Wright's hand, in those volumes ? If so, who can be counted on to transmit such images to us ?

S

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