'Towers Because Gardens'—Reviewing MoMA's Frank Lloyd Wright Exhibition

In reviewing MoMA’s recent exhibition “Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal,” Thomas de Monchaux explores the personal life and motivations of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Thomas de Monchaux’s recent article doesn’t spend too much time discussing the ostensible purpose of MoMA’s exhibition “Frank Lloyd Wright and the City: Density vs. Dispersal.” Monchaux describes the exhibition’s title as somewhat misleading: “On the rather slender premise of Wright as a theorist of high-rise hyperdensity in service of a landscape of pastoral sparsity (call it “towers because gardens”), the exhibit assembles exquisite original drawings and models of Wright’s notable tall buildings, plus the Broadacre City project he began in 1934.

(From a more pragmatic perspective, the exhibition celebrates the “recent joint acquisition of Wright’s archives by the museum and Columbia University’s Avery Architectural & Fine Arts Library.”)

Monchaux devotes some words to the technical value of the exhibition’s offerings, including the following: “Despite the charisma of the models, the real stars are the smudgy working drawings and annotated construction documents—many presented in glassed-in picture boxes, tilted in the manner of drafting tables, that recall Wright’s own installation of his work at MoMA in 1940. Mixed in with more polished and familiar images, the drawings reveal all the fuss of an architecture office hard at work.”

However, “[the] picture that emerges from all these documents undermines, of course, that cultural figure, perfected by Wright, of architect as solitary genius…The same selection of works would have equally served an exhibit premised on collective creativity in practice. But a picture also emerges of singular obsession and compulsion.”

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