Frank Lloyd Wright is arguably one of the most famous, controversial, and enigmatic of all American architects. He created some of the most unique and inspiring buildings of the 20th century while creating a cult of personality around himself the likes of which have never been seen since in the field of architecture. He was known as a showman, an egotistical taskmaster, and yes, a genius. His approach to architecture changed throughout his life and in his seventies, he hit his stride with a kind of second career designing many of the buildings we have come to know him for today such as “Fallingwater” in Pennsylvania and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.
Wright coined the term Organic Architecture to describe his philosophy of architecture which seeks to achieve a certain harmony between human habitation and the natural world by taking into account aspects of a buildings surroundings so that the design becomes part of a unified and interrelated composition. The buildings designs sometimes break the rules of balance and symmetry. It is this method of creating buildings that helped to make Wright’s designs intriguing and interesting from a visual standpoint.
In 1953, Wright was interviewed on the television program The Today Show by Hugh Downes. In the interview, as a part of his explanation of Organic Architecture, Wright demonstrated several architectural concepts by simply using his hands. Wrights official photographer at the time, Pedro Guerrero, asked Wright to recreate the hand gestures in his studio which eventually became known as “The Hand Series.” Watching my five year old son and his friends, I observed that many of the approaches that Wright promoted were concepts that are basic to how children approach construction when they have not had any formal training in design (e.g. symmetry and proportion) and this gave me the idea to photograph children in place of Wright recreating his demonstration of Organic Architecture.
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