A New Exhibition Will Offer Amazing Frank Lloyd Wright Pop Art Starting at $50

A New Exhibition Will Offer Amazing Frank Lloyd Wright Pop Art Starting at $50

By Jennifer Pattison Tuohy
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and Spoke Art gallery join forces to host “Frank Lloyd Wright: Timeless” at Taliesin West and New York City.

Heads up, Frank Lloyd Wright fans—a new pop art exhibition inspired by the legendary architect is opening soon, and artworks will start at just $50. The exhibition is helmed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and San Francisco– and New York–based Spoke Art gallery, who invited artists to depict Wright-designed buildings using 1930s-era Works Progress Administration travel posters as inspiration.

Spoke Art curator Ken Harman Hashimoto asked each artist to choose the Wright building that was most compelling to them personally. Artist Rory Kurtz grew up in Wisconsin and had visited Taliesin as a child. "For him to revisit it as an adult and as an artist was really compelling," says Hashimoto.

This unique, highly collectible, and thrilling exhibition features work inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture from over a dozen international artists. After opening next month at Wright’s lauded winter home and architecture school, Taliesin West, in Scottsdale, Arizona, the exhibition will travel to New York City's Hashimoto Contemporary gallery, where more pieces will be added to the collection.

The collaboration came about thanks to artist and illustrator Max Dalton, who has exhibited with Spoke Art in the past. The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation hired Dalton, based in Buenos Aires, to create illustrations for its Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly magazine, and Dalton connected the two organizations.

Here is illustrator Max Dalton's interpretation of the Marden House, built in 1952 for National Geographic photographer Luis Marden. Dalton was responsible for bringing the foundation and Spoke Art together.

"Ken Hashimoto, Spoke’s curator, and I were both equally as excited about partnering with the other," Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation vice president Jeff Goodman told Dwell. "We've really been focusing on Frank Lloyd Wright's relevance in popular culture—his work continues to show up in art, TV, and movies, so we wanted to let contemporary popular culture artists look at this work and interpret it for their audiences."

Goodman points to a little show called Game of Thrones and the futuristic series Westworld, both of which feature sets directly influenced by Wright’s work.

"The idea that, in 2019, our concept of what hundreds and hundreds of years ago looked like is Wright’s architecture—and our concept of what the future might look like is also Wright's architecture, is fascinating to me," says Goodman. "How is it possible that something visual, created at a fixed point in time, feels as if it has no time assigned to it?"

Artist Steve Thomas chose to depict Wright's only gas station, originally designed for his utopian Broadacre City.

The timeless yet contemporary feel of Wright's work is what drew Hashimoto to the project. "I think the show is a testament to the inspiration that he invokes. All contemporary artists are to some degree or another inspired by his work, whether directly or indirectly," he told Dwell. "Being able to tackle his work head-on is a pretty interesting challenge because of how iconic it is and how iconic many of our artists’ own unique styles are. The combination of those two things is really interesting."

The Works Progress Administration-inspired pieces, the majority of which are silk screen-printed posters—known as serigraphs—will start at just $50 and are sized to fit in standard poster frames. 

"The WPA posters were a good starting point for this series, partially because Wright was alive and making some of his most iconic work during that time period, and at the same time because those posters were intended to encourage Americans to go out and visit these national parks and historic landmarks," says Hashimoto. "In a similar vein, we are trying to encourage people to go out and visit Frank Lloyd Wright's properties around the country."

Francois Schulten's piece is almost a greatest hits album, says Goodman. Surrounding Wright at his drafting table are glimpses of  SC Johnson headquarters, flying helicopters from the unbuilt Broadacre City, Fallingwater, the Imperial Hotel, and garden sprites from Midway Gardens.

The pop-up exhibition includes an international roster of some of the biggest names in the contemporary illustrative poster scene—a genre that is less than a decade old and fast growing. They include Steve Thomas, George Townley, Max Dalton, Martin Ansin, Nico Delort, Matt Taylor, and Alison King.

"This art movement, which focuses on alternative movie posters and gig posters, is really hitting its stride now," says Hashimoto. "I think people will look back on this period and see it as sort of a renaissance for alternative film art."

Fallingwater is being interpreted by Tyler Stout, whose most recent screen print was a celebration of the 25th anniversary of the movie True Romance. "Stylistically, his interpretation is going to be really unique, really interesting," says Hashimoto. 

The posters will be first displayed at Taliesin West's music pavilion before traveling to Spoke Art Gallery in NYC, and potentially to future venues, Hashimoto says.

"One of Wright's principles was this idea of democratizing beauty," says Goodman. "He really felt that beauty should be accessible to all people regardless of their wealth or income. We want these beautiful posters to not be exclusive to people who can afford what is considered great art—we want to take great art and make it accessible to everyone."

Frank Lloyd Wright at his office in Taliesin West in 1955, where the art show will be held. 

The Taliesin West show in Scottsdale, AZ runs June 14 through June 16. The New York City show will be held at Spoke Art's sister gallery Hashimoto Contemporary (210 Rivington St.) July 26 through July 28. To learn more about the Spoke Art Frank Lloyd Wright show, or to purchase limited-edition prints (after the New York show closes), visit FrankLloydWright.org/SpokeArt.

Related Reading: 

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Celebrated Robie House Reopens to the Public

What You Need to Know About Frank Lloyd Wright's Usonian Homes


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