Book Reviews: Pauson House And Louis Sullivan
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March comes roaring-in like a lion with two fantastic new books released from Pomegranate—Building The Pauson House by Allan Wright Green and Louis Sullivan: Creating a New American Architecture by Patrick F. Cannon with photography by James Caulfield. I had a chance to pore over each book and offer-up my thoughts for PrairieMod readers. Read the reviews after the jump... For many Frank Lloyd Wright aficionados, the Rose Pauson House is widely acknowledged as one...
March comes roaring-in like a lion with two fantastic new books released from Pomegranate—Building The Pauson House by Allan Wright Green and Louis Sullivan: Creating a New American Architecture by Patrick F. Cannon with photography by James Caulfield. I had a chance to pore over each book and offer-up my thoughts for PrairieMod readers. Read the reviews after the jump...
For many Frank Lloyd Wright aficionados, the Rose Pauson House is widely acknowledged as one of his greatest residential designs. However, its greatness has long been veiled in the fog of history due to its tragic loss to fire in 1943, only one short year after its completion. For decades, all that anyone could experience of this remarkable building was a few photographs, select published drawings and the ghostly ruins of this once proud desert home. Fans and scholars alike have longed to learn more about this enigmatic design and experience what Wright's masterful use of space and natural material must have been like.
We now have a better sense of this lost Wright, thanks to the new book, Building The Pauson House: The Letters of Frank Lloyd Wright and Rose Pauson by Allan Wright Green. Green, who is Rose's great-nephew, tells the story of the Pauson House using a treasure trove of newly discovered photographs, Wright's original drawings and plans, and more than 50 previously unpublished letters between architect and client.
While the photos and drawings help illustrate the home in important, informative and never-before-seen ways, it's the letters that make-up the heart of this book and help set the stage for the eventual heartache to come. They reveal two passionate and complex personalities that are at times touching, funny, feisty and occasionally caustic. Yet, through it all, the sense of how important this home is to both Wright and Pauson is palpable—despite the challenges of money, time and egos. I especially like the fact that Green chose to publish the letters in their original handwritten form, forcing the reader to slow down and truly read each one to fully understand their message. It often felt like the I was the actual recipient of each letter, reading it as Rose or Mr. Wright might have many years ago.
By shear force of will, the Pauson House was built. Knowing the intimate back story of the home's creation makes the tragedy of its loss all the more painful. I highly recommend this book to both the novice and expert Wright fan—there is something to learn and experience reading the touching and tragic correspondence on the making of the Pauson House.
Louis Sullivan: Creating A New American Architecture is the next book from the dynamic team of Patrick F. Cannon and photographer, James Caulfield. Their previous collaborations produced engaging and beautifully photographed books on Wright's work in Oak Park/River Forest, Chicago's Prairie School designs and Oak Park's Unity Temple. This new tome on Louis Sullivan is a welcome addition to that line-up.
The last few years have seen an invigorated interest in the works of Sullivan, with several books, a new documentary and masterful restorations to his built works in Chicago. Cannon and Caulfield take a different approach in their newest book, not attempting to be an exhaustive retelling of Sullivan's biography or esoteric study of his work and impact. Instead, Patrick F. Cannon provides an accessible introduction into the life and work of Louis Sullivan, along with an engaging narrative of captions and insights to the plethora of sumptuous photos that follow.
Caulfield's photos are always a treat to see in these books and his new Sullivan images are no exception. Included alongside images of familiar Sullivan buildings like the "Jewel Box" Midwest banks, the Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Store and the James Charnley House are rare and never-before-published early residences, factories and other buildings largely ignored in previous Sullivan books. As partial as I am to Sullivan's Chicago works, the images of the Guaranty Building in Buffalo, New York are breathtaking and achingly beautiful—a visual feast for the eyes that I could spend hours looking at and always find some new detail to admire.
As with the three previous works by the Cannon/Caulfield team, this book does not disappoint. I recommend any lover of progressive design to pick-up a copy of this book and discover something new to love and respect about Louis Sullivan, giant of American Architecture.
Order these and many other fantastic art, architecture and design books from Pomegranate's website.
All images via PrairieMod