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'House Beautiful' gives art-goers design ideas
by Cortney Maddock
Apr 17, 2008 | 1923 views | 0 0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune/Cortney Maddock - The "Dining Chair" (1953) compliments the textile samples that line the "Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful Exhibit."
Tribune/Cortney Maddock - The "Dining Chair" (1953) compliments the textile samples that line the "Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful Exhibit."
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Tribune/Cortney Maddock - In the first room of the "Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful" displays earlier work and sketches, such as the Barrel Chair, Tallesin (1936).
Tribune/Cortney Maddock - In the first room of the "Frank Lloyd Wright and the House Beautiful" displays earlier work and sketches, such as the Barrel Chair, Tallesin (1936).
slideshow
Straying away from the conventional definition of art, the Nevada Museum of Art will open its "Frank Lloyd Wright and The House Beautiful" exhibit Saturday night. In this exhibit, the American architect has created art that can be sat on and dined at, looked through and illuminated with.

To the unsuspecting eye, a line is just a defining stroke, but to Wright it was something out of which he built a 70-year career.

Wright's innovative thinking changed the way architecture, and the American home, was viewed at the turn of the century.

"There is a different way of thinking about it," said Virginia Terry Boyd, from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the curator of the exhibit. "I started this exhibit with an idea that he had. He believed that Americans have a very unique way of living."

Boyd explained that Wright believed a house wasn't just to be lived in but that design contributed to the quality of life.

"We live very informally, the house should be structured to accommodate that." Boyd said. "That's a very contemporary idea."

Wright's designs play off three concepts, Boyd said, all of which she took into consideration when preparing for the exhibit.

"He worked with space in a new way," Boyd said. "Then, how should it look and how do you express American life? Then how did he take these ideas to people?"

The beginning of the exhibit displays photos of Wright's completed works in home design as well as bright, nearly futuristic for the 1950s, paintings and sketchiness.

"Carpet may be the last detail (people) think about," Boyd said as she pointed to colorful abstract sketches on the kelly green wall that Wright drew. The sketches are of rugs and carpets that were never an after thought for Wright.

"Everything has to have an aesthetic to it, color and light," Boyd said as she pointed out a rigid and highly detailed print table from 1898. "It is geometric, linear and abstract."

The table, which if put in a home would be the resting place for keys, the mail or even the newspaper, radiates the golden light of the exhibit lamps. The light reflects off of the many corners and crevasses, all of which are made from lines — lines that have defined Wrights ideas.

Even though Wright died in 1959, his designs find ways to dictate how their display will appear. The first room of the exhibit is illuminated by light fixtures and stained-glass windows that he designed. And as the bright lights shine through the glass, the retro yet forward-thinking design can be seen in the asymmetrical glass windows.

"He's always thinking about the totality of the design," Boyd said of Wright's ideas.

As the exhibit evolves, so does Wright's career. From the American home to the American people, Wright found ways to keep his designs fresh and innovative. This included joining forces with furniture manufacturers to help make his designs more accessible to the public.

"He worked with furniture manufactures to get textures, colors and styles that would be (popular) on the market," Boyd said.

Walking into the final area of the exhibit, it is clear that Wright was a trend setter, not a follower. Framed textile prints pop from the walls. Colors like robin's egg blue, tropical green and coral pink spill and mix to form prints, that when working with the Schumacher company became wallpaper.

But to have such an illustrious career and not have a sense of humor would be a faux pas. Boyd explained that people would sometimes tell Wright that his furniture wasn't comfortable to lounge in. Wright's response stayed true to his art: "We all look better standing up."

"House Beautiful" opens Saturday and will be at the Nevada Museum of Art until July 20. To peruse "House Beautiful," admission is $10 for adults and $8 for seniors and students.

In addition to Wright's exhibit, the NMA will have events based around the exhibit, which include a lecture by Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic Paul Goldberger on May 2 at 6 p.m. For other exhibit related events and ticket prices visit, www.nevadaart.org.

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