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Art Curatorial Exhibitions

MAM Celebrates 150 Years of Frank Lloyd Wright–Part Two: The Potential of Plywood

Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959), Usonian Exhibition Dining Chair, 1953. Oak and plywood. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, in memory of Evelyn Brindis Demmer with funds from the the Demmer Charitable Trust, Jody Brindis Goisman & Dick Goisman, Dr. Charles Brindis & Debra L. Brindis, and Wayne & Kristine Lueders.
Frank Lloyd Wright (American, 1867–1959), Usonian Exhibition Dining Chair, 1953. Oak and plywood. Milwaukee Art Museum, Purchase, in memory of Evelyn Brindis Demmer with funds from the the Demmer Charitable Trust, Jody Brindis Goisman & Dick Goisman, Dr. Charles Brindis & Debra L. Brindis, and Wayne & Kristine Lueders.

Though world-renowned (and Wisconsin-born) architect Frank Lloyd Wright is perhaps best remembered for his work in the Prairie Style, this portion of his career was only the first chapter of a much longer story. And so, in honor of the 150th anniversary of the Wright’s birth, the Milwaukee Art Museum is pleased to commemorate multiple aspects of his career—both early and late.

The exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: Buildings for the Prairie, on-view in the Bradley Family Galleries through October 15, 2017, explores work from the first part of his career, while his later achievements are represented by the acquisition of a Usonian Exhibition House Dining Chair—one of only two such objects that are still extant. The Milwaukee Art Museum is fortunate to have added this rare object to our permanent collection through the support of the Demmer Charitable Trust, Jody Brindis Goisman & Dick Goisman, Dr. Charles Brindis & Debra L. Brindis, and Wayne & Kristine Lueders, who have supported this acquisition in memory of Evelyn Brindis Demmer.

This simple plywood chair was produced for an exhibition held at the Guggenheim museum in New York in 1953, when Wright was 84 years old. Titled The Usonian House: Sixty Years of Living Architecture, the exhibition explored the architect’s efforts in the latter part of his life to produce housing that was affordable, yet still adhered to the high standards of beauty dictated by his philosophy of organic architecture. In fact, the catalog that accompanied the Guggenheim exhibition opened with a forceful statement written by Wright: “I believe a house is more a home by being a work of Art.” In this same publication, Wright even asserted that his approach to architecture aligned, fundamentally, with the principles of American democracy.