Jewish World Review May 21, 2014 / 21 Iyar, 5774
Frank Lloyd Wright lives again --- in Arkansas
By Paul Greenberg
Sometimes a single news story will illuminate more than just the usual darkness all around, bringing back a brighter past and, with it, hope for a brighter future. Like the latest announcement from Crystal Bridges, a not so little museum located in a little town in the heart of the heart of the country:
This time the already extensive but still fast-growing museum has acquired an archetypal example of the work of the one American architect most Americans might be able to name from the last century:
One of Wright's model little Usonian houses is to rise, if that's the word for it, on a wooded lot chosen for its natural setting and view of water, like much of the famous architect's work. For the little house is less separate from the outdoors than part of it. Like so much of Wright's architecture.
How fitting that students and faculty of the
No one who has been to Fallingwater, built over a stream in the
Much like "The Great Gatsby," another masterpiece of 20th-century American art, Wright's genius represented a revolt against the East, a realization and appreciation of the virtues of the Midwest. No one who could create Prairie Houses, and come to exemplify the whole Prairie Style of American architecture, would ever be confused with a product of the
Just as "The Great Gatsby" still captures the essence of the American experience, so does
Maybe the Usonian house never caught on as the kind of mass-produced innovation
There's a moral to this story. It's symbolized by this little modern house before Wright's work was eclipsed by the postmodernism of today's deconstructionist architects. You know the sort: iconic figures whose much celebrated and overpaid efforts tend to come out looking like botched intestinal operations. And the moral of the story is: America is still out here, somewhere in a clearing, waiting to be found again, saved, rediscovered, restored, brought back to life, revived. Then we Americans will be, too.
For this is still a young country and our destiny still awaits, as in rendezvous with. It's been out here all along, "in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night," as
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Paul Greenberg is the Pulitzer prize-winning editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
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