December 12, 2002: For The Art Collector Who Has Everything
sent along a photo of a Frank Lloyd Wright prairie-style double-pedestal stained glass lamp
that sold at Christie's for nearly two million dollars on Wednesday. The price is said to be an artifact of the lamp's historical value
. Which makes more sense than anything having to do with its aesthetics. Just because I've prattled on in the past about the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright
doesn't mean I actually like
Don and I were at Arise Gallery
in Takoma Park the other day, and why a vast warehouse full of Asian furniture, housewares, and clothing would contain a coffee-table book about Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural glass
is beyond me, but it did, so I paused for a thorough browsing. I was unable to find a single photo of any art glass I would wish upon any house of mine. No accounting for taste, I guess.
We did spy, at Arise, some interesting wood-and-stained-glass freestanding folding screens. The only problem was, the glass in these screens was of a very regular sort of fleur-de-lis type pattern, which made it glaringly apparent that the glass had been cut and set crooked. My instinctive reaction was, "I could do better than that!" ---I really need to watch that, it's gonna get me in trouble one of these days.
Posted by Michelle on December 12, 2002 11:43 AM
1) I have that book. I ordered it online somehow, and I was sort of underwhelmed by it. Not a very exciting collection in there.
2) FLW was very influenced by east asian design. It was part of the whole "turn of the century opening up the trade routes with Japan" thing. Although that would seem to be a better arguement for having books on Japanese design in a FLW store than the other way around. But there is at least some connection there.
Hope your transoms are behaving. : )
Michelle -- What are your thoughts on the stained glass of Charles Rennie Mackintosh? His stuff -- which I might quickly liken to that FLW, but with flourishes -- seems like it could be more your speed.
Lori: I can see how some Wright stuff might not be too inharmonious in a house packed with Asian goodies, but yeah, the book's being where it was did seem like sort of a stretch.
Kim: I don't know much about Mackintosh, but coincidentally enough, I think Lori showed me some of his roses on the web back when I was attempting to come up with transom designs that would pass Don's period-authenticity test. I can see a certain Wrighty resemblance, but the Mackintosh stuff I've seen features much more organic lines than anything Frank Lloyd Wright would've done. The rigorous geometry of FLW's stuff is a big part of my "eh" factor there. I think glass in general carries a lot of, I don't know, anti-sensual associations... it's sharp, it's cold, it's harsh, it's fragile and makes you bleed if you aren't careful (sometimes even if you are). So to me, the most interesting stuff you can do with glass is anything that softens or even negates the associations of the medium, through some aspect of the design. Which, it's funny, I think FLW had a philosophy of color where he rejected cooler-toned Tiffany-ish colors as being cold and unnatural themselves, so maybe he would say the same thing about art glass needing to incorporate some humanizing effect? Still, his lines ruin it for me. And I *like* blues and purples, so there.
In short, my largely-uneducated impression of Mr. Mackintosh's glass work is that it's a little more visually interesting than FLW's, a little more human... and maybe a little more technically interesting in terms of imagining its construction, too. Not sure how much bearing that should have on a discussion of aesthetics, but I can't help but look at glass that way now :)
Shockingly. I'm forced to 'fess up that I guess I like FLW's window's *because* of the geometry, the architecturalness of it. I also like some of them particularly for their use of natural light tones.
[ASIDE: Dare I say that my predilection for dark, carved Elizabethan styles has been replaced with an overriding appreciation for the Art + Crafts period? Am I becoming *gasp* a Modernist?!? Dunno how I feel about that, to be honest.]
That said, the muted, neutral tones were exactly what I liked about that Tiffany transom I pointed you toward. I like a window that complements the room but it is not the focal point of it. More typical Tiffany windows dominate a room, I think, to a disadvantage.
The Mackintosh stuff, I feel, is definitely a good balance between the linear and the organic ... there's obviously a modernist mind at work there, but I think it's tempered somewhat with a more aesthetic flair.
This, of course,leads to a form over function debate ... I believe firmly in a balance between the two, though I know my brother-in-law the architect would have some choice words to weight in with at this point ;-)
Kim, you always struck me as a pretty modern girl :D
The Tiffany window you emailed me certainly is very un-Tiffany-like in its colors. At least it's curvy and messy (in an ordered, near-symmetrical way of course). I *need* a little bit of curvy and messy... sorry Frank!
In the event of your brother-in-law becoming involved in this debate, I will leave the conversation to the two of you. Watching might be a lot of fun, but any attempts on my part to participate would further reveal that my tastes are wholly untainted by the influence of any historical perspective or philosophy. My loyalty lies squarely with the "oooooh, shiny" school :D
As a follow-up, here's another article about Tuesday's auction of the two-million-dollar lamp. The house it originally came from, the Dana-Thomas house in Springfield, Illinois, is said to be "most complete Frank Lloyd Wright house in the world" in terms of containing its original Wright furnishings. Patrons and "friends" of the Dana-Thomas house were bidding on Tuesday to try to bring the lamp back home, but their pockets weren't as deep as those belonging to the anonymous winner of the auction.
as a huge fan of flw work, i must say i'll happily take any of the art glass for my house.
no accounting for taste, i guess. :P