Guggenheim Plays It Safe on Wright Show

The models are great, but Wright show disappoints
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted May 15, 2009 8:34 AM CDT
An ink and pencil on tracing paper of the Guggenheim Museum by Frank Lloyd Wright.   (AP Photo/Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation)
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(Newser) – Fifty years after the death of Frank Lloyd Wright, historians and critics are still fighting over the legacy of an architect called in turns a genius and a megalomaniac. Now, a new exhibition at the Guggenheim Museum in New York—one of Wright's last buildings—offers an anniversary retrospective of his career. For New York Times critic Nicolai Ouroussoff, the show is a disappointment: While it contains beautiful drawings and models, it "offers no new insight into his life’s work."

Wright was radical and a visionary who advocated affordable housing for the masses, but at the same time he could "trample over his clients’ wishes, drain their bank accounts and leave them with leaky roofs." Yet the exhibition, which marches up the museum's famous ramp in chronological order, conveys none of the tension or controversy that surrounds his work even today. "It's a chaste show," writes the critic, "as if the Guggenheim was determined to make Wright fit for civilized company."