Frank Lloyd Wright
The Prairie House: The Wasmuth Portfolio. ArchiTech, through Nov 10 (see River North).
In 1909, Frank Lloyd Wright took his lover Mamah Borthwick Cheney to Europe, leaving behind a scandalized Oak Park and a foundering studio that was considered too avant-garde for Chicagoland’s grandest commissions.
When Wright met publisher Ernst Wasmuth in Berlin, he agreed to produce a monograph of his buildings in order to stage a comeback. The resulting Wasmuth Portfolio changed the course of architecture in Europe, but was hardly noticed in the States, where Wright’s reputation as a sleaze prevented him from getting media coverage. (It was a different time.)
Since then, however, the portfolio’s 100 plates have become iconic images of Wright’s work, which makes this show of the Wasmuth Portfolio mandatory viewing for his fans. Most of the 23 prints on display are gorgeous renderings of classic Prairie houses such as the Susan Lawrence Dana House, the Avery Coonley House and the Darwin D. Martin House. More obscure designs, such as a spectacular proposal for Harold McCormick’s Lake Forest summer house, make this a treat even for those who are Robie’d out.
Featuring interior, exterior and aerial views; floor plans; and details of elements such as Wright’s signature stained-glass windows, these prints represent a comprehensive monument to the first phase of the architect’s career—when the infamous homewrecker designed the most beautiful houses in the world.—Lauren Weinberg