Thursday, January 1, 2015

Frank Lloyd Wright Poster | Désiree Dahl

Frank Lloyd Wright Poster © Désiree Dahl 2014
Cedar Rock, originally known as the Lowell Walter Residence, was designed in 1950 by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. An exemplar of his Usonian style, it is located near Quasqueton IA, and has been designated as Cedar Rock State Park. For the past ten years, the Friends of Cedar Rock organization has held an annual seminar—called An Afternoon with Frank Lloyd Wright—in which speakers talk about Wright's life, beliefs and achievements.

To celebrate the tradition of that seminar, in the fall of 2014, graphic design students in the Department of Art at the University of Northern Iowa, were asked to design a series of posters that focus on Wright and his accomplishments, not limited to Cedar Rock. The poster above was designed by Désiree Dahl in a course in Digital Image Design (2014).


As Viennese-born architect Richard Neutra explains in his autobiography, Life and Shape (NYC: Appleton Century Crofts, 1962), long before he immigrated to the US he was well-acquainted with the architecture of Frank  Lloyd Wright and that of Wright's mentor, Louis Henri Sullivan. When Neutra moved to Chicago (in the early 1920s), he recalls (pp. 181-182)—

I went to see all Sullivan's buildings, and found them extraordinary. Here in the middle of North American, I thought, was work which could be compared with what Otto Wagner had been doing in the Vienna of Central Europe. And that was the very highest accolade I was capable of giving to anything built. Sullivan was living in this town [Chicago], I found out, and I wanted by all means to see him.

But by this time, Sullivan was nearing the end of his life. In poor health and drinking heavily, he and his wife had separated, and he was living alone in a hotel room. When Neutra told other architects that he wanted to meet Sullivan—

…they all laughed at me. Sullivan? they asked,—isn't he that old drunkard? He's a pauper now, and is being supported by his friends; each pitches in five dollars a month.…he's living in a run-down tenement or "hotel" on Warner Avenue, around Thirty-Fifth Street or so.

Finally, when Neutra located Sullivan—

He was very broken, while I tried by best to cheer him up. But he kept dwelling on his despondency and lack of following. The loneliness of genius is something horrible to behold.

Soon after they met, Sullivan died, and Neutra was one of the few who attended the funeral. There, he was surprised to see Sullivan's former student, Frank Lloyd Wright, "who had come all the way from California, where he was working, to attend the funeral," even though he and Sullivan had not spoken to one another for many years.


See also: Roy R. Behrens, FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT and Mason City: Architectural Heart of the Prairie (2016).