[WRIGHT, FRANK LLOYD. 1869-1959.]
ARCHIVE ASSEMBLED BY PROFESSOR HENRY-RUSSELL HITCHCOCK FOR THE WORK HE CO-AUTHORED WITH FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT, IN THE NATURE OF MATERIALS.
1. Approximately 600 photographs of Wright's buildings and interiors, assembled for potential publication in the book. Various processes including gelatin silver, cyanotype and carbon prints, a small percentage copy prints, various sizes, many contemporary with the completion of the buildings. Photographers mainly uncredited, but including: Henry Fuermann of Chicago, Gilman Lane of Oak Park, IL, Samuel H. Gottscho of Jamaica, NY, and G.E. Kidder-Smith of New York. Most with annotations on verso, some on recto, usually for publication purposes; many either stamped "Property of F.LL. Wright" or with the penciled initials "FLLW."
2. Approximately 300 photographic reproductions of drawings and plans. Gelatin silver prints, 8 by 10 inches, probably 1950s or 1960s, typed captions pasted on verso. These not used in In the Nature of Materials.
3. Several plans by members of the Taliesin Fellowship, redrawn specifically for Hitchcock's book. Ink and pencil on tracing paper, various sizes.
4. 7 plans and one perspective of various projects, believed to be by Wright, ink, pencil and wash, including: ground plan of atelier for Richard Bock, 1903; C.H. MacAfee, 1894; Harry Brown ground floor, 1909; Brown concrete block house (perspective); Eckhart, 1899.
5. 3 Typed Letters Signed ("Frank Lloyd Wright," "FLLW"), 3 pp, 4to, Taliesin, Spring Green, WI, June 1938 to June 1941, to Hitchcock, two with manuscript amendments, folds, one with heavy staining in margin. Together with a further Typed Letter Signed by Wright's assistant Eugene Masselink regarding drawings for publication in the book.
Hitchcock and Wright's book was intended to be a sort of ex post facto catalogue of the 1940 MoMA exhibition Frank Lloyd Wright: American Architect described by the man himself as "the show to end all shows." The Great Depression, Wright's prolonged absence from the country, and his turbulent personal life had resulted in a dearth of commissions for the first half of the 1930s. At the time of the MoMA show, he was still at the opening of his "second career," which had been revived by the Kaufmann house (Fallingwater) and the Johnson office building.
In the Nature of Materials, published in 1942, was swiftly acknowledged as a standard work on Wright and remained in print for nearly a quarter century. Its author Hitchcock [1903-1987] had risen to prominence through the 1920s and early 30s, cementing his reputation with the 1932 International Style show at the MoMA, co-curated with the architect Philip Johnson. The year after the book's publication, Wright was commissioned to design a permanent home for the art collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation a project that occupied him for some fifteen years but resulted in one of the most instantly recognizable buildings in the world.
The present archive offers an exceptionally rich documentation of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. The content is well-organised, and arranged chronologically in file folders. Many of the interior photographs show the original furnishings and the houses in daily use papers strewn across desks, tables set for dinner, and toys on the floor. Families can be seen standing proudly in front of their new homes. A number of photographs record buildings that no longer survive, including Taliesin I (burnt beyond recognition in 1914), Midway Gardens in Chicago (destroyed in 1929), and the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo (demolished in 1968). Several images are by noted architectural photographers such as Samuel H. Gottscho and G.E. Kidder-Smith, and many derive from Wright's own photographic collection, sent by him to Hitchcock for publication in their book (as Hitchcock explains in his acknowledgements).
Despite their collaboration, Hitchcock and Wright enjoyed a checkered relationship. They started off on the wrong foot in July 1937, when Hitchcock referred in the Architectural Review to "the absence of any new directing genius in America" and "the days when [Wright] was an active architect before the war." The first letter from Wright in the present archive suggests a rapprochement the following year: "I feel that a good talk will straighten out our 'differences' and I do think the letter I wrote apropos of your article in the Review somewhat hasty and unnecessarily unkind." In the next letter, the architect highlights certain projects for inclusion in the book ("some of these are paid up 'prospects' that did not get into bricks and mortar but are the more important on that score as they were actual work in hand"), while the last letter focuses on their deal with the publisher Duell and Wright's "great hopes for the book... [I] believe we will both be satisfied."
Provenance: Henry-Russell Hitchcock [1903-1987]; bequeathed to the present owner.