NONFICTION

The Guggenheim: Frank Lloyd Wright's Iconoclastic Masterpiece

Yale. Jul. 2017. 184p. illus. ISBN 9780300226058. $30. ARCH
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This book updates the author's 2004 publication Il Tempo e l'architetto, mixing in the last 15 years of scholarship on Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) and his masterwork, New York City's Guggenheim Museum. Dal Co is a stellar architectural historian of postmodernism; he wrote many books on some of its dinosaurs such as Frank Gehry and Renzo Piano. Wright is well known as one of the greatest architects of all time, and the rising sun of postmodernism led by climate change has increased his importance and "recast" his Guggenheim as the most important single building of the 20th century. Looking backward from the 21st century, the Guggenheim emerges through its cloud of "rational objectivity" as the completely natural and organic crown of all of Wright's career, conceived as a " spiral, chambered nautilus" that would "spring back" from any atomic bomb attack and keep the wheelchairs going up the ramp of life. Unfortunately, production errors make this book hugely incomprehensible. The typeface ("Atlas Grotesk") is hard on the eyes—perhaps a crucifixed reading was intended. Paragraphs are much too long, too complicated, and virtually unorganized. Long quotations are not inset. Text illustrations are inadequately identified on subsequent pages. There is no index, and footnotes are replaced by a ten-page "Bibliographic Note" of interest to serious readers. Finally, intellectual references are diluted and inconspicuous.
VERDICT Only for educated connoisseurs, aesthetes, intellectuals, and a few educated architects and adults.

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