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Wright and New York: The Making of America's Architect

by Anthony Alofsin Yale University Press
Pub Date:
Hbk 352 pages
AU$67.99 NZ$72.17
Product Status: In Stock Now
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A dazzling dual portrait of Frank Lloyd Wright and early twentieth-century New York, revealing the city’s role in establishing the career of America’s most famous architect


Frank Lloyd Wright (1867–1959) took his first major trip to New York in 1909, fleeing a failed marriage and artistic stagnation. He returned a decade later, his personal life and architectural career again in crisis. Booming 1920s New York served as a refuge, but it also challenged him and resurrected his career. The city connected Wright with important clients and commissions that would harness his creative energy and define his role in modern architecture, even as the stock market crash took its toll on his benefactors.


Wright denounced New York as an “unlivable prison” even as he reveled in its culture. The city became an urban foil for Wright’s work in the desert and in the “organic architecture” he promoted as an alternative to American Art Deco and the International Style. New York became a major protagonist at the end of Wright’s life, as he spent his final years at the Plaza Hotel working on the Guggenheim Museum, the building that would cement his legacy.


Anthony Alofsin has broken new ground by mining the recently opened Wright archives held by Columbia University and the Museum of Modern Art. His foundational research provides a crucial and innovative understanding of Wright’s life, his career, and the conditions that enabled his success. The result is at once a stunning biography and a glittering portrait of early twentieth-century Manhattan.
"Anthony Alofsin engagingly examines Frank Lloyd Wright’s previously unexplored relationship with New York City and the influence one had over the other. Illuminating an atmosphere of turbulent change and a burgeoning bohemian culture, this is the perfect book to read when navigating a city that seems, more than ever, a victim of heartless reconstruction."—Patti Smith


"A watershed investigation of Wright’s life in the 1920s, when he landed, adrift, in New York. The city proved antagonistic, irresistibly so, and transformed him. Alofsin’s erudition, compelling prose, and first-rate detective work will alter how you perceive both Wright and Manhattan."— Judith Dupré, New York Times bestselling author of Skyscrapers


"Alofsin chronicles the relationship between America’s greatest architect and its greatest city with the precision of a detective, the perspective of a historian, and the flair of a novelist."—Thomas Mellins, author of New York 1930


"Drawing from newly examined sources, Alofsin depicts the important role New York City played during the last fifty years of Frank Lloyd Wright’s long, often tumultuous career."—David G. De Long, University of Pennsylvania


"While no one can summarize Wright, Alofsin comes closer than most by focusing on Wright’s complex relationship with New York City, and how it provided both thesis and antithesis for Wright’s urban conceptions."—Robert McCarter, author of Frank Lloyd Wright


"Alofsin convincingly and engagingly shows how Wright’s half-century relationship with New York City shaped his ideas on urbanism and the skyscraper, his position as a modernist, and his public identity."— Joseph M. Siry, author of Beth Sholom Synagogue: Frank Lloyd Wright and Modern Religious Architecture
Anthony Alofsin is Roland Roessner Centennial Professor of Architecture at the University of Texas at Austin and a fellow of the American Institute of Architects.