Features September 2001
Louis Sullivan after functionalism
Occasioned by The Idea of Louis Sullivan, by John Szarkowski; Louis Sullivan: The Poetry of Architecture, by Robert Twombly and Narciso G. Menocal; Sullivan’s City: The Meaning of Ornament for Louis Sullivan, by David van Zanten.
Ah, that supreme, erotic, high adventure of the mind that was his ornament.
Frank Lloyd Wright
Was ever a genre of art scorned as much as was architectural ornament during the heyday of modernism? Decorative carving, panels, and friezes became abominations: excrescences lathered over otherwise honest brick boxes, and all in the service of corrupt social display. To purge them was high moral duty. In his 1908 essay Ornament and Crime, Adolf Loos famously compared the ornament of a building to the tattoos of a criminal, thereby giving a lofty anthropological basis to what might otherwise be regarded as a matter...
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