Frank Lloyd Wright. Exterior frieze from the Dana House, Springfield, IL. 1902–1904

Frank Lloyd Wright Exterior frieze from the Dana House, Springfield, IL 1902–1904

  • MoMA, Floor 5, 511 The David Geffen Wing

The Susan Lawrence Dana House, one of Wright’s earliest projects, afforded him the opportunity to experiment with design and construction techniques that would become emblematic of his Prairie Style architecture. Though many European modernists shunned exterior ornament, American practitioners like Wright used it liberally to accentuate structure, with a proclivity toward geometric abstractions of nature. Applied on the upper portions of the exterior, the decorative frieze wraps around the house, forming a richly patterned skin derived from the shape of sumac leaves—a motif applied throughout the house on windows, lamps, and decorative objects.

Gallery label from 2020
Additional text

Wright, born in Wisconsin and based in Chicago, is known for developing Prairie Style architecture, which is characterized by low, horizontal roofs, gently sloped gables, rows of continuous windows, wide overhanging eaves, a central hearth, an open plan, and undisguised building materials. The Dana House, one of Wright’s earliest projects, afforded him the opportunity to experiment with many design and construction techniques he would implement in his later works. Though many European modernists shunned exterior ornament, American practitioners like Wright used it liberally to accentuate structure, with a proclivity toward geometric abstractions of nature. Applied on the upper portions of the exterior, the decorative frieze wraps around the house, forming a richly patterned skin derived from the shape of sumac leaves—a thematic ornamental element applied throughout the house on windows, lamps, and decorative objects.

Gallery label from Shaping Modernity 1880–1980, March 28, 2012–September 8, 2013.
Medium
Plaster and paint
Dimensions
55 1/4 x 24 5/8 x 1 3/4" (140.3 x 62.5 x 4.4 cm)
Credit
Gift of Don Magner and Edgar Smith
Object number
961.2010
Copyright
© 2021 Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
Department
Architecture and Design

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