July 2017

Architect, interior designer, writer and educator; Frank Lloyd Wright was a master of many arts and this summer MoMA are delving into the archives to celebrate this great American’s life works.

Ever concerned with posterity, Frank Lloyd Wright preserved most of his drawings to form a monumental archive which he hoped would, in time, serve as an educational tool and act as a relic of the past.

Unpacking the Archive refers to the colossal task of moving 55,000 drawings, 300,000 sheets of correspondence, 125,000 photographs and 2,700 manuscripts, as well as models, films, building fragments and other materials. Unlike previous retrospective exhibitions, Unpacking the Archive was curated by a group of scholars and conservators who were invited to ‘unpack’, through contextualising, exploring and asking questions. As a result, the exhibition reveals two things; the inspiration behind his work and the artist's personality. The exhibition isn’t just about physical architecture, it is also about the architecture of life.

Having been faced with a multitude of material, the curators have divided the exhibition into categories; each area tells its own story, covering a wide range, including revealing little known projects, aspects of which highlight Wright’s involvement in topics such as the environment, racial and social conflict, industry and the rural economy and even mass media.

At the core of the show is a set of drawings showing key schemes of Wright’s career, highlighting the draughtsmanship and influences that guided him. From Wright’s iconic Fallingwater House from 1935 in Pennsylvania to his designs and plans for the Mile-High Tower (a skyscraper twice the height of the current tallest building in the world), the exhibition reveals a man of demonstrable talent as well as personality. 

Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive Museum of Modern Art 11 West 53rd Street New York
Through to 1st October 2017
All photography © 2017 Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Scottsdale, AZ