GRACE OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT DESIGN HONORED AT LIVEAUCTIONTALK.COM
Sectional sofa; four pieces; reupholstered; signed with remnants of paper label; sold for $9,000. Photo courtesy of Don Treadway.
Frank Lloyd Wright is to architecture what Van Gogh is to art.
Wright was dictatorial about building furniture he designed himself into the houses he constructed. He was also notorious for going into the same houses when the owners were away and rearranging the furniture and accessories the way he thought they should look. Some of the built-in contemporary furniture still remains in the homes he designed.
The architect gave new meaning to the term artistic license.
Long on hubris and short on humility, Wright called himself America’s greatest architect. Then upping the ante he referred to himself as the greatest architect in the world and finally the greatest architect of all time.
Clients commissioning houses from Wright learned to expect the unexpected from the charismatic architect. His matching hexagonal tables might tip over, stools sometimes fell and chairs could be uncomfortable. Wright was experimenting with geometry in his design and this just is how it turned out sometimes.
In sharp contrast to boxy Victorian rooms, Wright believed in free-flowing living areas. Rooms opened into one another and were often without walls and doors. Rooms were also lighted by big windows opening to views of the surrounding scenery.
Fireplaces were focal points. Chimneys were massive. Porches were open. Wright’s homes had plenty of breathing room and were designed for families to stretch out and roam around in.
Many were horizontal rather than vertical. They had a sense of ease and flow to them. By using new materials like concrete and steel framing, Wright radicalized design.
From windows to floors to individual chairs, everything in the architect’s rooms related to everything else.
“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature,” Wright said.
His intention was for homes to blend rather than offend their natural settings.
Not only was Wright an architect and furniture designer, he was also a writer, artist and educator.
His career began in 1887 at the age of 20 and lasted until his death in 1959 at 92.
When he was 86-years-old Wright and Heritage-Henredon Furniture Industries of Morganton, N.C., teamed up and Wright designed his first furniture collection for the mass market.
The 1955 line was called "Taliesin," or the "Taliesin Ensemble." It was named after Wright’s Wisconsin home and consisted of approximately 61 pieces. Many of the pieces bear the distinctive Taliesin design, a classic series of carvings on the edges.
The Taliesin line was an idea whose time hadn’t come. The buying public just wasn’t ready.
The line also wasn’t marketed well and didn’t sell well. The furniture didn’t fit with most traditional styles and homeowners were lost as to how to make it work. The furniture also wasn’t a good fit with the new “modern” plastic and metal styles of the era.
Time has a way of changing perspective. With its simplicity, natural woods and metal the Taliesin furniture line seems timeless today like a bridge connecting one modern era to another.
On Sept. 14, Treadway & Toomey Galleries featured a selection of Frank Lloyd Wright Heritage-Henredon furniture in its 20th Century Art & Design auction held in Oak Park, Ill. Here are some current values.
Frank Lloyd Wright Taliesin Furniture
Sideboard; series of doors and drawers; Taliesin design to edges; original finish; script signature; $3,360.
Coffee Table; hexagonal form; Taliesin design to edge; original finish; signed with red monogram; $3,480.
Sofa; base with Taliesin design to edges; refinished; signed with partial paper label; $4,200.
Stacking Cabinets; 2; each with two doors with concentric square details; Taliesin design to edges; original finish; signed with red monogram; $5,100.
Sectional sofa; four pieces; reupholstered; signed with remnants of paper label; $9,000.
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