“This is an anti-retrospective,” says Barry Bergdoll, the curator of Frank Lloyd Wright at 150: Unpacking the Archive, on view until October 1 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). “It doesn’t try to perfectly shape an unfolding career.” Instead, he describes the show’s thematic structure as “eccentric.” And that it is. (Some might call it hard to follow.)
Instead of rolling out a standard repertory of all-time hits—Robie House, Unity Temple, Fallingwater, Johnson’s Wax, Guggenheim Museum—Bergdoll ferreted out lesser known efforts, many of which were unbuilt. Wright the formgiver is still evidence, but so is the protean creative genius as a socially conscious architect, planner, and inventor. The idea to uncover little-known corners and crevices of his staggering body of work came as a result of the archive MoMA and Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library at Columbia University acquired from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation in 2012.