Dictionary of Art and Artists



History of

Architecture and Sculpture



















Part I. ARCHITECTURE - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,
Part II. ARCHITECTURE - 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20,
Part III. ARCHITECTURE - 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29





Modernism in twentieth-century architecture has meant first and foremost an aversion to decoration for its own sake, without a trace of historicism. Instead, it favors a clean functionalism, which expresses the machine age, with its insistent rationalism. Yet modern architecture demanded far more than a reform of architectural grammar and vocabulary. To take advantage of the expressive qualities of the new building techniques and materials that the engineer had placed at the architect's disposal a new philosophy was needed. The leaders of modern architecture have characteristically been vigorous and articulate thinkers, in whose minds architectural theory is closely linked with ideas of social reform to meet the challenges posed by industrial civilization. To them, architecture's ability to shape human experience brings with it the responsibility to play an active role in molding modern society for the better.

Although Chicago at the turn of the century was, as Frank Lloyd Wright noted soberly after returning from a trip to Europe, a fairly cultureless place, full of slaughter-houses, blast furnaces and George M. Pullman's factories, there was nevertheless one place in this rapidly expanding city which seemed to be a melting-pot for Modernist ideas. This was the office of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan's successful architecture practice. The young Frank Lloyd Wright as well as Irving John Gill worked as draftsmen here.

In 1893, the year that Frank Lloyd Wright left Sullivan's office, the Columbian World Exposition took place in Chicago. With its orgy of white stucco and propagated ideal of the "city beautyful", it dealt a fatal blow to those functional ideas still germinating in purpose-built architecture and heralded the triumphant advance of academic architecture in America. The Japanese Pavilion, a replica of the Ho-o-den Temple, attracted Wright's particular attention. Here was an opportunity to study Japanese architecture, with its overhanging roofs and geometric wall slabs, in full-scale model.

Even before the turn of the century Wright had formulated, in numerous articles and lectures, some of the fundamental principles underlying his entire oeuvre. Anything "which has no real use or purpose" was to be avoided,- even necessities such as radiators were to be invisible, were to vanish into the construction. Visible elements, however, were to have their own character and nonetheless relate to the whole. Individuality was one of his favourite catchwords. "There are as many different houses as there are people." Wright's mistrust of industrial stylization was based on his personal experience with the materials available in the building trade. It was not possible to get plain-dyed fabrics for curtains, plain rugs, groove and tongue boards without modelling nor posts without carvings, making a wealth of detailed drawings necessary which were not reflected in the architect's set fees, which were, based solely on the use of available materials.

There was in the United States no movement of opposition. The weak Arts and Crafts scene has its forum in the magazine "The Craftsman", published by furniture maker Gustav Stickley. He also published individual works by Wright, Gill and the Greene brothers, but response was weak. The brothers Charles Sumner and Henry Mather Greene probably came closest to the ideal of the craftsman. Since they worked only with wood, their buildings were very detailed and divided into emphatic single structural elements. They showed lines, angles, projections and recesses instead of closed surfaces. Their building methods were developed directly from wood-joining techniques. The houses were not to be covered with climbing plants,- they harmonized with their surroundings at a respectful distance from nature. Wright had set up his own office in Chicago's suburban Oak Park in 1889. He participated intensively in middle-class socializing and spoke at women's club meetings. His most important programmatic articles appeared not simply in the magazine "Architecture Record", but also in the widely-read "Ladies' Home Journal". His article "A Home in a Prairie Town" appeared in the latter in February 1901 as part of a series on low-cost housing models.

Wright's early houses were named after the flat prairies of the American Midwest. Their exteriors are influenced by his respect for quiet stretches of countryside and transcend the actual lack of space in suburban areas. He used low-pitched, overhanging roofs, low eaves, wide-set fireplaces and outreaching garden walls to achieve his effects. The houses are multi-storey despite their obvious horizontality. Narrow stairs emphasize the layered floor levels rather than citing the impressive entrances found in traditional villa architecture. His entrances have no forceful character whatsoever. They are usually hidden, narrow and set at an angle, reflecting Wright's belief that a house should be a "shelter". Colour, which he liked to employ in autumnal shades, took second place behind effects achieved with vegetation. He usually integrated bowls and troughs into parapets. He devoted much attention to fenestration, usually aligning his windows in long bands. He rejected the American guillotine window, preferring instead the European casement.

Wright introduced a surprisingly strong ornamental note into his interiors through geometric glass-work. Light filtered through coloured class whose rising organic patterns symbolized natural growth. In his plans, where the rooms were often grouped in a cruciform arrangement with staggered axes around a large central fireplace, Wright employed typical motifs from the country-house architecture of the nineteenth century, using deliberate asymmetries as a means of artistic design. But the only loose division of his rooms, whereby one seems to flow into the next, goes much further. His plans are balanced and free of obligation to symmetry. "The old structural forms which up to the present time have spelled 'architecture' are decayed. Their life went from them long ago and new conditions industrially, steel and concrete and terra cotta in particular, are prophesying a more plastic art wherein as the flesh is to our bones so will the covering be to the structure, but more truly and beautifully expressive than ever." In such statements Wright revealed himself as a visionary who always wanted more than he was able to create. His goal was architecture as a unity created by man, based on practical but not merely pragmatic considerations. His Prairie Houses reach their climax in the Robie House in Chicago. It is situated in the city and therefore cannot be compared to the "real" Prairie Houses such as those he built for Willitts or Cooniey.


The first indisputably modern architect in this sense was Frank Lloyd Wright
(1867-1959), Louis Sullivan's great disciple. If Sullivan, Gaudi, Mackintosh, and Van de Velde could be called the Post-Impressionists of architecture, Wright took architecture to its Cubist phase. This is certainly true of his brilliant early style, which he developed between 1900 and 1910 and had broad international influence. In the beginning Wright's main activity was the design of suburban houses in the upper Midwest. These were known as Prairie School houses, because their low, horizontal lines were meant to blend with the flat landscape around them.

Frank Lloyd Wright's last, and most accomplished, example in this series is the Robie House of 1909 (figs. 1169 and 1170). The exterior, so unlike anything seen before, instantly proclaims the building's modernity. However, its "Cubism" is not merely a matter of the clean-cut rectangular elements composing the structure, but of Wright's handling of space. It is designed as a number of "space blocks" around a central core, the chimney. Some of the blocks are closed and others are open, yet all are defined with equal precision. Thus the space that has been architecturally shaped includes the balconies, terrace, court, and garden, as well as the house itself. Voids and solids are regarded as equivalents, analogous in their way to Analytic Cubism in painting, and the entire complex enters into an active and dramatic relationship with its surroundings.

Wright did not aim simply to design a house, but to create a complete environment. In the Francis W. Little House (fig. 1171), he even took command of the details of the interior and designed stained glass, fabrics, and furniture. The controlling factor here was not so much the individual client's special wishes as Wright's conviction that buildings have a profound influence on the people who live, work, or worship in them, making the architect, consciously or unconsciously, a molder of people.

1169. FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT. Robie House, Chicago. 1909

Frank Lloyd Wright. Frederick C. Robie House, Chicago, Illinois, 1908-1909
Street front; Entrance area

Four welded steel beams, approximately 30 metres in length, run lengthwise through the roof and permit its broad overhang. Extended terraces, low storey heights, continuous parapet bands - of which only some border balconies, others simply delimit "holes" - and elongated enclosures all take up the dynamic horizontals of the roof and make the house appear larger than it actually is.

Plan of the Robie House

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT. Installation of the living room from the Francis W. Little House. 1913.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Frank Lloyd Wright. Dining room in the Robie House


Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright, original name Frank Lincoln Wright (born June 8, 1867, Richland Center, Wisconsin, U.S.—died April 9, 1959, Phoenix, Arizona), architect and writer, the most abundantly creative genius of American architecture. His “Prairie style” became the basis of 20th-century residential design in the United States.

Early life
Wright’s mother, Anna Lloyd-Jones, was a schoolteacher, aged 24, when she married a widower, William C. Wright, an itinerant 41-year-old musician and preacher. The Wrights moved with their infant son, Frank Lincoln (he would later change his middle name to Lloyd), to Iowa in 1869 and then lived successively in Rhode Island and Weymouth, Massachusetts, before eventually moving back to Wright’s mother’s home state of Wisconsin. The young Wright attended the University of Wisconsin at Madison for a few terms in 1885–86 as a special student, but as there was no instruction in architecture, he took engineering courses. In order to supplement the family income, Wright worked for the dean of engineering, but he did not like his situation nor the commonplace architecture around him. He dreamed of Chicago, where great buildings of unprecedented structural ingenuity were rising.

The early Chicago years
Wright left Madison early in 1887 for Chicago, where he found employment with J.L. Silsbee, doing architectural detailing. Silsbee, a magnificent sketcher, inspired Wright to achieve a mastery of ductile line and telling accent. In time Wright found more rewarding work in the important architectural firm of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan. Wright soon became chief assistant to Sullivan, and in June 1889 he married Catherine Tobin. He worked under Sullivan until 1893, at which time he opened his own architectural practice. His family grew to six children, while his firm grew until as many as 10 assistants were employed.

The first work from the new office, a house for W.H. Winslow, was sensational and skillful enough to attract the attention of the most influential architect in Chicago, Daniel Burnham, who offered to subsidize Wright for several years if Wright would study in Europe to become the principal designer in Burnham’s firm. It was a solid compliment, but Wright refused, and this difficult decision strengthened his determination to search for a new and appropriate Midwestern architecture.

Other young architects were searching in the same way; this trend became known as the “Prairie school” of architecture. By 1900 Prairie architecture was mature, and Frank Lloyd Wright, 33 years old and mainly self-taught, was its chief practitioner. The Prairie school was soon widely recognized for its radical approach to building modern homes. Utilizing mass-produced materials and equipment, mostly developed for commercial buildings, the Prairie architects discarded elaborate compartmentalization and detailing for bold, plain walls, roomy family living areas, and perimeter heating below broad glazed areas. Comfort, convenience, and spaciousness were economically achieved. Wright alone built about 50 Prairie houses from 1900 to 1910. The typical Wright-designed residence from this period displayed a wide, low roof over continuous window bands that turned corners, defying the conventional boxlike structure of most houses, and the house’s main rooms flowed together in an uninterrupted space.

During this period Wright lectured repeatedly; his most famous talk, The Art and Craft of the Machine, was first printed in 1901. His works were featured in local exhibitions from 1894 through 1902. In that year he built the home of the W.W. Willitses, the first masterwork of the Prairie school. In 1905 he traveled to Japan.

By now Wright’s practice encompassed apartment houses, group dwellings, and recreation centres. Most remarkable were his works for business and church. The administrative block for the Larkin Company, a mail-order firm in Buffalo, New York, was erected in 1904 (demolished in 1950). Abutting the railways, it was sealed and fireproof, with filtered, conditioned, mechanical ventilation; metal desks, chairs, and files; ample sound-absorbent surfaces; and excellently balanced light, both natural and artificial. Two years later the Unitarian church of Oak Park, Illinois, Unity Temple, was under way; in 1971 it was registered as a national historic landmark. Built on a minimal budget, the small house of worship and attached social centre achieved timeless monumentality. The congregation still meets in the building’s intimate, top-lit cube of space, which is turned inward, away from city noises. The Unity Temple improved on the Larkin Building in the consistency of its structure (it was built of concrete, with massive walls and reinforced roof) and in the ingenious interior ornament that emphasized space while subordinating mass. Unlike many contemporary architects, Wright took advantage of ornament to define scale and accentuation.

Europe and Japan
By 1909 Wright’s estrangement from his wife and his relationship with Mamah Cheney, the wife of one of his former clients, were damaging his ability to obtain architectural commissions. In that year Wright began work on his own house near Spring Green, Wisconsin, which he named Taliesin, before he left for Europe that September. Abroad, Wright set to work on two books, both first published in Germany, which became famous; a grand double portfolio of his drawings (Ausgeführte Bauten und Entwürfe, 1910) and a smaller but full photographic record of his buildings (Ausgeführte Bauten, 1911). With a draftsman, Taylor Willey, and his eldest son, Lloyd Wright, the architect produced the numerous beautiful drawings published in these portfolios by reworking renderings brought from Chicago, Oak Park, and Wisconsin.

By 1911 Wright and Cheney, still unmarried since Wright could not get a divorce, were living at Taliesin. Wright’s career suffered from unfavourable publicity generated by his relationship with Cheney, but he found a few loyal clients like the Avery Coonleys, whose suburban estate, west of Chicago, the grand masterwork of the Prairie style, he had designed in 1908. In 1912 Wright designed his first skyscraper, a slender concrete slab, prophetic but unbuilt.

At this time the Japanese began to consider Wright as architect for a new Tokyo hotel where visitors could be officially entertained and housed in Western style. Thus, early in 1913 he and Cheney spent some months in Japan. The following year Wright was occupied in Chicago with the rushed construction of Midway Gardens, a complex planned to include open-air dining, other restaurants, and clubs. Symmetrical in plan, this building was sparklingly decorated with abstract and near-abstract art and ornament. Its initial success was cut short by Prohibition, however, and it was later demolished. Just before Midway Gardens opened, Wright was dealt a crushing blow; Cheney and her children, who were visiting her at Taliesin, and four others were killed by an insane houseman, and the living quarters of the house were devastated by fire.

Stunned by the tragedy, Wright began to rebuild his home and was soon joined by the sculptor Miriam Noel, who became his mistress. In 1916 they went to Japan, which was to be their home for five years.

The Imperial Hotel (1915–22, dismantled 1967) in Tokyo was one of Wright’s most significant works in its lavish comfort, splendid spaces, and unprecedented construction. Because of its revolutionary, floating cantilever construction, it was one of the only large buildings that safely withstood the devastating earthquake that struck Tokyo in 1923. No one still doubted Wright’s complete mastery of his art, but he continued to experience difficulty in acquiring major commissions because of his egocentric and unconventional behaviour and the scandals that surrounded his private life.

The ’20s and ’30s
Wright’s transpacific journeys took him to California, where he met a wealthy, demanding client, Aline Barnsdall, who about 1920 built to Wright’s designs a complex of houses and studios amid gardens on an estate called Olive Hill; these now serve as the Municipal Art Gallery in Hollywood. In 1923 and 1924 Wright built four houses in California, using textured concrete blocks with a fresh sense of form.

Late in 1922 Wright’s wife Catherine divorced him at last. His relationship with Miriam Noel ended, and in 1925 Taliesin again burned, struck by lightning, and again Wright rebuilt it. That same year a Dutch publication, Wendingen, presented Wright’s newer work fully and handsomely, with praise from Europeans. In 1924 Wright had met Olgivanna Hinzenberg; soon she came to live with Wright permanently, and they married in 1928. Meanwhile, Wright’s finances had fallen into a catastrophic state; in 1926–27 he sold a great collection of Japanese prints but could not rescue Taliesin from the bank that seized it. Amid these debacles, Wright began to write An Autobiography, as well as a series of articles on architecture, which appeared in 1927 and 1928. Finally, some of Wright’s admirers set up Wright, Incorporated—a firm that owned his talents, his properties, and his debts—that effectively shielded him. In 1929 Wright designed a tower of studios cantilevered from a concrete core, to be built in New York City; in various permutations it appeared as one of his best concepts. (In 1956 the St. Mark’s Tower project was finally realized as the Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma.)

The stock market crash of 1929 ended all architectural activity in the United States, and Wright spent the next years lecturing at Chicago, New York City, and Princeton, New Jersey. Meanwhile an exhibition of his architecture toured Europe and the United States. In 1932 An Autobiography and the first of Wright’s books on urban problems, The Disappearing City, were published. In the same year the Wrights opened the Taliesin Fellowship, a training program for architects and related artists who lived in and operated Taliesin, its buildings, and further school structures as they built or remodeled them. From 20 to 60 apprentices worked with Wright each year; a few remained for decades, constituting his main office staff. In the winter Wright and his entourage packed up and drove to Arizona, where Taliesin West was soon to be built. At this time Wright developed an effective system for constructing low-cost homes and, over the years, many were built. Unlike the Prairie houses these “Usonians” were flat roofed, usually of one floor placed on a heated concrete foundation mat; among them were some of Wright’s best works—e.g., the Jacobs house (1937) in Westmorland, Wisconsin, near Madison, and the Winckler-Goetsch house (1939) at Okemos, Michigan.

International success and acclaim
Wright gradually reemerged as a leading architect; when the national economy improved, two commissions came to him that he utilized magnificently. The first was for a weekend retreat near Pittsburgh in the Allegheny Mountains. This residence, Fallingwater, was cantilevered over a waterfall with a simple daring that evoked wide publicity from 1936 to the present. Probably Wright’s most-admired work, it was later given to the state and was opened to visitors. The second important commission was the administrative centre for S.C. Johnson, wax manufacturers, at Racine, Wisconsin. Here Wright combined a closed, top-lit space with recurving forms and novel, tubular mushroom columns. The resulting airy enclosure is one of the most humane workrooms in modern architecture. Each of these buildings showed Wright to be as innovative as younger designers and a master of unique expressive forms.

Thereafter commissions flowed to Wright for every kind of building and from many parts of the world. His designs for the campus and buildings of Florida Southern College at Lakeland (1940–49) were begun, and the V.C. Morris Shop (1948) in San Francisco was executed. Among Wright’s many late designs, executed and unexecuted, two major works stand out: the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and the Marin County government centre near San Francisco. The Guggenheim Museum was commissioned as early as 1943 to house a permanent collection of abstract art. Construction began in 1956, and the museum opened in 1959 after Wright’s death. The Guggenheim, which has no separate floor levels but instead uses a spiral ramp, realized Wright’s ideal of a continuous space and is one of his most significant buildings. The Marin County complex is Wright’s only executed work for government, and the only one that integrates architecture, highway, and automobile, a concept that had long preoccupied Wright.

A prolific author, Wright produced An Autobiography (published 1932, revised 1943), An Organic Architecture (1939), An American Architecture (1955), and A Testament (1957).

Wright was a great originator and a highly productive architect. He designed some 800 buildings, of which 380 were actually built and about 280 are still standing. Throughout his career he retained the use of ornamental detail, earthy colours, and rich textural effects. His sensitive use of materials helped to control and perfect his dynamic expression of space, which opened a new era in American architecture. He became famous as the creator and expounder of “organic architecture,” his phrase indicating buildings that harmonize both with their inhabitants and with their environment. The boldness and fertility of his invention and his command of space are probably his greatest achievements.

Edgar Kaufmann, Jr.

Encyclopædia Britannica



Frank Lloyd Wright. Avery Coonley Residence,
Riverside, Illinois,
View from the street

Frank Lloyd Wright. Stables of the William H. Winslow House in River Forest, Illinois, 1893-1894

The Winslow House was Frank Lloyd Wright's first own commission, and thus his first opportunity to realize his architectural visions fully and completely. The annex shown here, with its staff apartment, hen house, stables and garage, displays a whole series of design features which were to prove characteristic of Wright's work: the horizontal emphasis, the low-pitched roof, the entrance arch and the projecting, often stained-glass bay window. A tree which stood "in the way" was left where it was, and the roof built around it.

Frank Lloyd Wright. House for William Fricke in Oak Park, Illinois, 1901-1902
Photo Peter Gossel

Wright also occentuated the verticals in a number of details here, and experimented with Cubic volumes. The "Tower Room" was originally a billiard room.

West and north views

Frank Lloyd Wright. House for Avery Coonley in Riverside, Illinois, 1907-1908
Part of the west facade

Wright spoke of a one-storey house "with the basement above ground level". All the rooms except the entrance hall and a playroom are situated on this raised level. Colourfully-glazed tiles form geometric patterns on the facade.


Frank Lloyd Wright. Coonley Villa Playhouse, Riverside, Illinois, 1912

Frank Lloyd Wright. Living room in the Coonley House

Frank Lloyd Wright.
House for Ward W. Willitts in Highland Park, Illinois, 1902-1903

The stuccoed wood construction sits on the property upon no distinct base. The cruciform plan organizes the hall and entrance, living area, airing room end kitchen end service areas into four wings around the central fireplace.

Frank Lloyd Wright. Dining room with original furniture

Frank Lloyd Wright. Gale House in Oak Park, Illinois, 1909

Frank Lloyd Wright. Larkin Company Administration Building.
Buffalo, New York, 1903-1905

Frank Lloyd Wright. Office workspaces

Frank Lloyd Wright.
"Fallingwater", Villa for Edgar J. Kaufmann in Mill Run, Pennsylvania,

Frank Lloyd Wright.
"Fallingwater", Villa for Edgar J. Kaufmann in Mill Run, Pennsylvania,

"Fallingwater". Plan

Frank Lloyd Wright. Administration Building for S. C. Johnson & Son Co. in Rocine,
Wisconsin, 1936-1939

Frank Lloyd Wright.
Administration Building for S. C. Johnson & Son Co. in Rocine,
Wisconsin, Interior view

Frank Lloyd Wright. "Solar Hemicycle", House for Herbert Jacobs in Middleton, Wisconsin, 1944.
Entrance; View from the inner courtyard

Plan of the ground floor


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