Light Screens: The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright, Washington, DC

Dana Thomas Sumac Window: The inspiration for on of my tattoos.

One of the most impressive features of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings is how light is used create a look and feel in a room.  Wright's sense of light and its influence on an indoor space is truly amazing.  Light and the windows it traveled through were used to add warmth, depth, color and privacy to his buildings.  

For the last two years, an exhibit of Frank Lloyd Wright art glass windows (or light screens) has been traveling on exhibit in galleries across the US.  On Friday, March 14, 2003 "Light Screens: The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright" (Julie L. Sloan, Curator) opened at the Renwick Gallery of Art in Washington, DC.  Needless to say the only thing that kept me from being on their stoop when the gallery opened was an important business meeting that didn't conclude until 1pm.  I skipped lunch and dashed the 3 blocks from my office to the Renwick, located across the street from the White House. 

Darwin D. Martin House Tree of Life Window

The exhibit shows the historical evolution of Wright's light screen designs, starting with his earliest work and going through the mid 1920s.  I've been admiring the leaded glass work of Frank Lloyd Wright for years, but had not taken the time to really contemplate the way that his designs changed to coincide with the evolution of his architectural designs.  

Ms. Sloan expertly brings out this evolution... showing the way his early designs were directly descendent from the Froebel Gifts he played with as a child.  Later designs depicted graphic illustrations of prairie themes that fit perfectly with the prairie homes he designed in the early 1900s.  Beyond these were the light screens that were influenced by the time he spent in Japan and Europe in the early 1910s and 20s.  

Casement Windows from the Coonley Playhouse

The book that shares the exhibit's name, also written by Julie L. Sloan goes a step beyond this to discuss the glass and light designs that Wright used after the 1920s, when he'd given up using leaded glass.  

The light screens were only part of this wonderful exhibit.  In addition to the wonderful education on the evolution of Frank Lloyd Wright light screens, there were photos and design drawing facsimiles  for each of the homes or buildings that they came from. 

For many of Wright's early homes, there was an original print taken from the Wasmuth portfolio that Wright published during a trip to Europe in 1910. These sketches were responsible for introducing Wright's designs to a generation of European architects and were great influences on people with names like Walter Gropius, Le Corbusier and Mies van der Rohe

My own Wasmuth Print of Unity Temple (Its not a priceless first edition)

Light remained a constant theme in Wright's architecture.  His mastery of its use to shape and mold the feel of a room is a part of Wright's genius that is often overlooked.  Ms. Sloan's exhibition of Frank Lloyd Wright light screens is a very educational and beautiful way to correct this oversight.  If you're in the Washington, DC area between now and July 20, 2003 DO NOT MISS THIS EXHIBIT!!!

If you've got more questions, Drop me an e-mail

Other Links Related to this Exhibit

Renwick Gallery Web Site

Light Screens: The Leaded Glass of Frank Lloyd Wright

David Sides' informative site on Designing with Light

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