Tuesday, 6 March 2007

Frank Lloyd Wright exhibition

A fragment of stained glass from Frank Lloyd Wright's Coonley House playhouse, from 1903 -- and one of my own favourites -- currently part of a Chicago exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture, textiles and glass. Says the curator,
The design philosophy of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright was actually much more than that – it was a philosophy of living.
Wright believed that if a person created an environment that was beautiful, it would enrich and nourish the lives of the people who lived in it.
His influence extended beyond architecture, encompassing [landscape[, furniture, textiles, paint and wallpaper. He wanted all of those elements to harmonize with a building’s architecture.
RELATED: Architecture


  1. I don't want to open an old can of worms here PC, but how does the FLW stained glass (very fine indeed BTW) have inherent aesthetic value by your rationale, where a Mondrian piece of very similar appearance gets lambasted as worthless?


  2. That's an excellent question, Den -- but I've never noticed you to be unwilling to open a can of worms before. ;^)

    It's a question often asked with respect to things like chairs, curtains, furniture and all the other stuff that goes to decorate a house: if architecture is art, the question goes, then can this other stuff be art?

    I guess I'd say, that it can be part of the art, but it's not art on its own.

    Here's why I'd say about that: The position of things like this window in relation to the whole building is similar to, perhaps, a phrase in poem, or a metaphor in a short story, or a chapter in a novel. On their own there's insufficient scope, depth or integration for them to be "a shortcut to philosophy," as good art should be, but like a good and well-crafted phrase, metaphor or chapter, we can sometimes enjoy them in their own right as well - particularly if we know they came from and are part of the same theme as the major work -- but not as art.

    And here's part of what I've said before on that: "Essentially, [for an object to be judged as a fully-fledged work of art] there needs to be a sufficient level of complexity within the nature of the object to allow the artist to integrate and communicate a view of the world by means of that object.

    "We might recognise there is a threshold of complexity below which an object is not really able to offer us sufficient metaphysical insight to constitute being called 'art' - unless that is it is part of a wider ensemble: For a cookie jar, for example, that might be if it is part of an architectural ensemble however; that jar may well be an integrated component in the whole 'universe' which the architect is creating for us to live in - by its texture, colouring, convenience etc. and by its placement within the whole 'gesamptkuntswerk' the architect can say something about how important it is (or not) to enjoy delightful nibbles. :-)"

    If you really want to get pointy-headed about it and bring in some Classical Greeks(and I obviously did when I wrote this):
    "Now, what both Plato and Aristotle bring to the discussion is the idea that mimetic devices like analogy and metaphor are themselves a way of being a shortcut to understanding - by their very nature, as Aristotle asserted, they cause us to 'learn and make inferences'.

    "What strikes me is that if our cookie jar is an integral and well-designed part of a larger ensemble that is itself causing us to learn and make inferences, then the cookie jar is somewhat similar in nature to a metaphor in a larger work - much like the position occupied by, for example, Plato's cave or the Myth of Er in his Republic."

    Neat, huh. :-)

  3. Oh, and I don't think I've ever lambasted Mondrian as "worthless" have I?
    Surely not. Mondrians make great wall decoration. :)


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