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Frank Lloyd Wright (Critical Lives)
 
 

Frank Lloyd Wright (Critical Lives) [Kindle Edition]

Robert McCarter
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Review

'One of the handsomest books yet on America's architect of the century' (The Sunday Times) 'Robert McCarter's volume is a masterly achievement.' (Times Literary Supplement) 'As a presentation of Wright's complete career, it is difficult to imagine McCarter's book being bettered.' (Architects Journal) 'Of all the books that have appeared in the last 10 years on Frank Lloyd Wright and his architecture, this is one that will last. Robert McCarter's prose is agile and passionate.' (amazon.com) 'A sumptuous and revealing book ... an intensely human and at times poetically interpreted description of Wright's work and life.' (World Architecture)

Product Description

The life and architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959) have been much-studied, yet there is a consistent division between analyses of his architecture, which exclude any discussion of his daily life, and books that tell the often sensational tale of his life, with barely a passing reference to the buildings themselves. The result is that, despite the large number of volumes on Wright, the most essential part of his life - his life as an architect, working, as he said, 'in the cause of architecture' - remains virtually unexplored.Frank Lloyd Wright offers an account of Wright's life as an architect, the ideas, beliefs and relationships that shaped his life and work, and the manner in which these affected, and are reflected in, his architecture. During a tumultuous life and extensive career which includes such hugely defining buildings as the Guggenheim Museum, Fallingwater, Taliesin, Unity Temple, and the prolific Prairie Houses, Wright endeavoured to shape the emerging and evolving American democracy, its mode of dwelling, and its relation to the traditional conception of the city. Fusing ancient construction geometries with contemporary ideals of Transcendental philosophy, Wright sought to develop an appropriate architecture for the new world of the twentieth century. In doing so, he served as the primary inspiration for the emergence of Modern architecture around the world.Robert McCarter examines how Wright's architecture crystallized key conceptions of both private dwelling and public citizenship for American society, and relates how, through his work and writings, Wright developed relationships with key leaders of the arts, industry and society. He analyses how and why Wright maintained that architecture was the 'background or framework' for daily life, never the literal 'object' of our attention, as well as Wright's belief that architects have the most significant ethical responsibilities to improve the larger society and culture to which they belong. In exploring Wright's life, times and culture, Robert McCarter shows how Wright was an architect of astonishing ability, whose works continue to shape the world around us, fifty years after his death.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1106 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (11 July 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008JZKKQC
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #421,013 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars superb explanation and brief bio of a genius 20 April 2011
By rob crawford TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback
As a non-specialist who is admittedly rather ignorant of architectural history, this book was perfect for me. It avoids both excessive detail and incomprehensible jargon, yet covers the principal steps in Wright's 60-year career. I really got an idea of what he did and accomplished and what was so unique about it, which was exactly what I hoped to find. (McCarter's other book on FLW is huge with such long descriptions of interiors that I felt intimidated to open it.)

Essentially, Wright approached his buildings as personal works of art designed for the purchaser after long conversations on their desires (with a few glaring exceptions, due to a sudden excess of FLW's arrogance). He designed them from the inside out, with the greatest attention to detail as total works of art down to the furniture and even the clothes of residents, kind of like Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk, but for living space and quality of life. He also strove to orient them wrt the sun and other natural contours of the landscape. The range of buildings is far too complex and varied to describe here, of course, and I could have used more pics in the text to supplement McCarter's wonderful descriptions (easily available on the internet). I finally get it and will study his legacy in greater detail. Also, many of his homes were designed for the middle class, rather than exclusively for an aristocracy of the rich.

The wider context is also covered in just the right detail, that is, how Sullivan mentored Wright; how Wright rebelled against the neo-classical fashion as exemplified by the great Burnham; how he hated Corbusier, Mies van der Rowe, and Gropius.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, different outlook on the man+his work 30 April 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Oustanding commentary, well researched and insightful. The text here is mighty different from other commentaries on Wright, and feels much more substantive. Ony con: not enough images + some floorplans are reproduced too small to read clearly. - not a photo overview, a study on the man.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This is one of the best books about Wright's architecture that I have read (Written by architect Robert McCarter). It focus only on his architecture with little biographical notes and has great detailed explanations and studies about Wright's work and his process of creation like 3 diferent plans (on same floor), the use of the diagonal, the interior/exterior relations, among other things, which are very interesting and useful for me has an architecture student. It lacks some more photos and floor plans (to be perfect) but the text compensates the omissions. It is said that 'an image is better than a thousand words' but the opposite can also be said for, when a work is described, it gives a better notion of the hole of a work then all the seperate images I've seen of it (the images are only there to improve our perception). Another great architectural monography by PHAIDON.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book, different outlook on the man+his work 30 April 1998
By jbmye@conncoll.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Oustanding commentary, well researched and insightful. The text here is mighty different from other commentaries on Wright, and feels much more substantive. Ony con: not enough images + some floorplans are reproduced too small to read clearly. - not a photo overview, a study on the man.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful not only for reference on his work 25 Feb 2002
By Rafael Lemieszek Pinheiro - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a great book, not only as a reference for FLW's work, divided into sections of building type, containing hundreds of great photographs and drawings of his works (about 20 on Fallingwater alone), by which you can really get to know his work in detail. Because it's so visually rich, it is also a reference for constrution techniques and details (and, as you know, FLW is a very echletic architect). The text is very well written and covers everything related to each work, like clients' reviews, technical specifications, the story of the building, and so forth. I recommend it to anyone interested in architecture and FLW.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb explanation and brief bio of a genius 27 Nov 2007
By Robert J. Crawford - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
As a non-specialist who is admittedly rather ignorant of architectural history, this book was perfect for me. It avoids both excessive detail and incomprehensible jargon, yet covers the principal steps in Wright's 60-year career. I really got an idea of what he did and accomplished and what was so unique about it, which was exactly what I hoped to find. (McCarter's other book on FLW is huge with such long descriptions of interiors that I felt intimidated to open it.)

Essentially, Wright approached his buildings as personal works of art designed for the purchaser after long conversations on their desires (with a few glaring exceptions, due to a sudden excess of FLW's arrogance). He designed them from the inside out, with the greatest attention to detail as total works of art down to the furniture and even the clothes of residents, kind of like Wagner's Gesamtkunstwerk, but for living space and quality of life. He also strove to orient them wrt the sun and other natural contours of the landscape. The range of buildings is far too complex and varied to describe here, of course, and I could have used more pics in the text to supplement McCarter's wonderful descriptions (easily available on the internet). I finally get it and will study his legacy in greater detail. Also, many of his homes were designed for the middle class, rather than exclusively for an aristocracy of the rich.

The wider context is also covered in just the right detail, that is, how Sullivan mentored Wright; how Wright rebelled against the neo-classical fashion as exemplified by the great Burnham; how he hated Corbusier, Mies van der Rowe, and Gropius. Finally, Wright's establishment of the two Taliesin campuses and their unique apprenticeship environment is covered, as are his many writings - a huge part of his legacy as passed on to students. (It makes me wish I had studied architecture.)

While McCarter obviously loves the man and his work, he does not shy from criticizing him, particularly as his self-critical sense seemed to fail him late in life, partially as a result of the constant sycophantic praise of his entourage and the strange domination that his third wife exerted. It is a very rounded portrait that appears fair to me. He also covers Wright's bitterness at what he felt was a lack of recognition, particularly as some of his greatest triumphs came late in life.

Warmly recommended. This book is a wonderfully light though substantial meal, as a preparation for deeper inquiry. It is an ideal intro.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe 3 1/2 makes more sense, depends on what you want from this book 1 April 2007
By Chris bct - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This big book closely examines 3 of Wright's buildings, the Unity Temple, the Barnsdall (Hollyhock) House and the Johnson Wax Administration Building and Research Tower. There are about 5 floor plans for each building as well as 1 or 2 architectural drawings. Many of the photos are of details of each building and most are interior shots. There are a few full exterior shots of each building. There are about 60 pages with b&w photos. There's about 19 full page photos and about 7 of those are b&w. One color photo takes up 2 full facing pages. There's about 42 floorplans and about 60 architectural drawings. There's 2 pages of text only in the Introduction and about 52 pages with maybe half text, half color or b&w photos or floorplans or drawings. The text reads very much like a textbook.

It's certainly uncommon to find so many floor plans and having the book focus on just three buildings gives the author a real opportunity to go into great detail on each. With everything combined that this book offers, you get a much better grasp of the many details of each building, far more than you can with a book that spends 1 to 4 or even 10 pages on a single building. The photos are quite nice, the floor plans are all very clear and the drawings are well defined, not too light. In fact, it appears that some of the naturally lighter drawings have been slightly darkened for better viewability. It's a good book to own, if you don't mind a lot of floor plans, drawings and some b&w photos.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars knowledge 28 Jan 2001
A Kid's Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
the building is beautiful.the columns used in johnson's wax company is mushroom type which give it a nice look and quite stable.in this columns there is no need of beams since the flange is working as beam.it is aesthetically very good.
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