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Robert Winter

Guides to every state in the Union (and some of the major cities) that were written under the auspices of the Federal Writers Project created by the Works Progress Administration/Federal Art Project during the presidency of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The idea was part of Roosevelt’s attempt to find work for the thousands of Americans who had been left jobless by the Great Depression of the 1930s. Published between 1937 and 1942, each one began with short chapters on subjects such as political history, the arts, architecture, labor movements, economics and education. These were followed by sections on major cities and their resources. About half of each guide was devoted to a series of tours that might be taken along country roads as well as major highways. They included details of small towns that are still valuable to scholars.

The Federal Writers Project hired some important authors, but few of them wrote for the guides. They were composed by people of lesser note such as unknown college professors, amateur naturalists and architecture buffs. The great majority of the researchers were people who had no training in gathering facts but who nevertheless pursued them with care. One also suspects that the high quality of the finished products was the result of the work of capable editors....

Article

Joseph M. Siry, Laura E. Leaper and David Gebhard

American family of architects and designers . (1) Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the acknowledged masters of 20th-century architecture. His sons (2) Lloyd Wright and (3) John Lloyd Wright also became architects; Lloyd Wright was in addition a landscape designer and John Lloyd Wright a designer of toys, while a third son, David Wright, became an executive with a firm manufacturing concrete blocks, which Frank Lloyd Wright used extensively in his work.

(b Richland Center, WI, June 8, 1867; d Phoenix, AZ, April 9, 1959).

He was one of the formative figures for American and international modern architecture of the 20th century, with an extraordinarily large and influential body of work throughout the continental United States and Japan. His life’s achievement was largely centred on suburban and rural houses, renowned for their spatial integration with their surrounding environments, though his series of public buildings was unprecedented in their structural inventiveness. Wright’s emphasis on continuity of form as a principle of what he called ‘organic’ architecture anticipated the spatial and material fluidity of much contemporary digitally designed and fabricated architecture in the new millennium....

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Kristin E. Larsen

(b Lawrence, KS, July 2, 1878; d Newton, NJ, July 9, 1936).

American landscape architect and housing reformer. Educated at the University of Pennsylvania, Wright received his early training in planned picturesque park and streetscape design in the offices of the landscape architect George Kessler (1862–1923). Wright’s first widely recognized project in Clayton, an upscale neighborhood in St Louis, MO, featured palatial homes on large lots along curvilinear roads and oriented toward interior parks. He moved to Washington, DC, in 1918 to design new communities for war workers in the ship building industries. This short-lived experiment in federally funded housing transformed Wright, connecting him with such architects as Clarence Stein (1882–1975), who shared his social reform sensibilities. In the 1920s and 1930s, in partnership with Stein, Wright designed “new towns” inspired by the English garden city writings of Ebenezer Howard but reflective of the new “motor age.” Begun in 1924, Sunnyside Gardens in Queens, New York, featured single family, duplex and cooperative apartments arranged in a perimeter design around central courtyards. In ...

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Monroe H. Fabian

(b Bordentown, NJ, July 16, 1756; d Philadelphia, PA, Sept 13, 1793).

American painter, sculptor and engraver. He probably received his first art training from his mother, the wax modeler Patience Wright. After the death of his father in 1769, he was placed in the Academy in Philadelphia, while Patience opened a waxworks in New York. In 1772 she moved to London to open a studio and waxworks there; by the spring of 1775 Joseph joined her and was the first American-born student admitted to the Royal Academy Schools, where he won a silver medal for ‘the best model of an Academy figure’ in December 1778. In 1780 he exhibited publicly for the first time with Portrait of a Man in the annual exhibition of the Society of Artists of Great Britain. In that year he caused a scandal at the Royal Academy by exhibiting a portrait of his mother modelling a head of King Charles II, while busts of King George III and Queen Charlotte looked on (ex-artist’s col.). He went to Paris in ...

Article

(b Oyster Bay, NY, 1725; d London, 1786).

American waxwork sculptor, active also in England. Patience Wright represents several milestones in American art history: She is recognized as the first American-born sculptor, as the first female artist to achieve recognition and as a political activist during the American Revolution. Born Patience Lovell, she was raised in a large Quaker family on Long Island and in Bordentown, NJ. According to later reports, she taught herself to sculpt by molding faces in clay. Wright began modeling wax portraits to support her five children after the death of her husband, Joseph Wright, in 1769. Together with her sister Rachel Wells, also a skilled waxworker, she traveled the east coast from Boston, MA to Charleston, SC filling portrait commissions. She also established a waxwork studio in New York that displayed life-size models of popular figures, including the evangelist George Whitefield, New York’s lieutenant-governor, Cadwalader Colden, and the lawyer John Dickinson, author of the revolutionary pamphlet ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

(b London, June 26, 1960).

English painter and installation artist active in Glasgow and Los Angeles. He studied painting at Edinburgh College of Art between 1978 and 1982, graduating with a BA. After distancing himself from art during the 1980s, Wright became more engaged with conceptual frameworks for making art after studying for an MFA at Glasgow School of Art between 1993 and 1995. During this time he began to explore the relationship between architecture, art and design, painting directly onto walls to create ephemeral works intended to last only for the duration of the exhibition. In early wall paintings such as Untitled (exh. Glasgow, Intermedia Gal., 1993), the motifs used are quite simple, with interlocking strips of colour painted in a band around the gallery walls. Wright’s paintings of the mid-1990s included motifs that appeared to be drawn from corporate logos and tattoos, with the inclusion of stylized skulls and gothic symbols. In the installation ...

Article

(b Lebanon, OH, April 3, 1904; d New York, Dec 21, 1976).

American designer. He took summer painting courses at the Cincinnati Academy of Art and in 1920 moved to New York to study sculpture at the Art Students League. He studied law at Princeton University, NJ (1921–4), but was chiefly interested in stage and prop design for college plays. He spent weekends in New York working on theatre projects with Norman Bel Geddes and in 1924 abandoned university for a career in theatre design. In 1927 he married Mary Small Einstein (d 1952), who became his business manager and, through her genius for marketing his designs, the driving force behind his subsequent success. In 1930 he established a workshop in New York, making stage props and whimsical objects for specialty shops, including small animals hand-cut from aluminium sheet. He soon progressed to designing all manner of metal and ceramic objects for the home, influenced by Bauhaus ideas for functional design, although his simple, rounded forms were entirely his own. Similar to such contemporaries as Walter Dorwin Teague, Raymond Loewy, and Henry Dreyfuss, he championed an American approach to design, free from mannerisms and appealing to use. He created bar accessories, ice buckets, beer pitchers, and bowls from spun aluminium, a metal he thought suitably democratic, and after ...

Article

A. Deirdre Robson

(b Charlottesville, VA, 1888; d New York, April 11, 1939).

American critic and writer . When he was 19 he became literary critic for a West Coast newspaper. In 1912 he moved to New York, first working as editor for The Smart Set, then as a newspaper editorial writer and art critic for Forum and International Studio. In these periodicals he wrote defences of modern art, attacking conservatives in the American art establishment. He also co-authored a book on aesthetic philosophy, The Creative Will (London, 1916) with his brother, the Synchromist painter Stanton Macdonald-Wright , and published a number of non-art books.

Wright’s most important critical work was Modern Painting: Its Tendency and Meaning (New York, 1915), in which he attempted to explain modern art as an evolutionary process from Eugène Delacroix, Gustave Courbet and the Impressionists to Post-Impressionism and Cubism. The idiosyncrasy of his approach was to place Synchromism as the pinnacle of modern artistic development. In 1916 Wright organized the ...

Article

Christopher Masters

(b 1895; d 1986)

American collector . He acquired an impressive collection of French decorative art and Old Master and Impressionist paintings that his wife Jayne (Larkin) Wrightsman continued to expand after her husband’s death. Wrightsman amassed his fortune through the Standard Oil company of Kansas, of which he was President between 1932 and 1953. With the dispersal of many European collections following World War II the Wrightsmans were able to decorate their houses in New York, Florida and London with works of the highest quality. These became the subject of a celebrated legal case in 1970, when Wrightsman attempted to have the US$8.9 million that he had spent on art declared an investment in order to qualify for tax allowances. He lost his case on the grounds that the Wrightsmans plainly took personal pleasure in their collection. Wrightsman’s private enjoyment of his art did not, however, prevent him from being a particularly important patron of the ...

Article

Stanford Anderson

(b Stockton, CA, Oct 20, 1895; d Berkeley, CA, Sept 19, 1973).

American architect, academic administrator, and teacher . After receiving his architectural degree from the University of California, Berkeley (1919), he worked in architects’ offices in California and New York (1923–4). In private practice in San Francisco from 1926 to 1943, he designed over 200 houses. The Gregory farmhouse (1926–7), Santa Cruz, CA, employed with a seeming modesty the coarse wooden construction of agrarian buildings of the region. Yet it has a simplicity of planar organization and a reticence of detail that is subtly formal. From the covert complexity of this farmhouse to suburban and urban commissions, he heightened his use of local materials while enlisting aspects of international modern architecture.

In 1940 Wurster married Catherine Bauer , an expert on social housing. After a year studying city planning at Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, he became Dean of Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1944...

Article

Robert S. Olpin

(b Evans Creek, nr Port Washington, OH, Jan 11, 1836; d New York, Nov 11, 1892).

American painter . He began as an itinerant painter of topographical landscapes along the banks of the Ohio River c. 1854, influenced by such landscape artists as Worthington Whittredge and George Inness. In 1863–4 Wyant moved to New York, where he was impressed by the paintings of the Norwegian artist Hans Gude in the Düsseldorf Gallery. This led him to work with Gude in Karlsruhe, Germany, in 1865. On his way both there and back, he studied paintings by Constable and used a more painterly technique especially for views of Ireland, for example Irish Landscape (1865; Cleveland, OH, Mus. A.). Gude’s influence in Germany was very strong, when Wyant painted hard-edged, but broad and expansive landscapes such as Tennessee (formerly The Mohawk Valley) (1866; New York, Met.)

In 1873 Wyant permanently lost the use of his right arm due to a stroke and started to paint with his left hand. ...

Article

Henry Adams and Margaret Barlow

American painters .

(b Needham, MA, Oct 22, 1882; d Chadds Ford, PA, Oct 19, 1945).

American painter and illustrator , father of (2) Andrew Wyeth. Wyeth was born on a farm that his family had owned since the early 18th century. By the time he was in his teens, he knew he wanted to be an artist, a goal that was encouraged by his mother. After some initial instruction at the Massachusetts Normal Art School in Boston and with private teachers, in 1902 Wyeth was accepted into the painting class of Howard Pyle , the most famous illustrator of this period. Wyeth proved particularly responsive to Pyle’s mix of stern criticism and warm encouragement. In 1903 Wyeth had a painting of a bucking bronco accepted for the cover of The Saturday Evening Post. By the next year he was well launched into his vocation, placing his work in several different magazines and producing his first book illustrations. In ...

Article

revised by Margaret Barlow

(b Dayton, OH, 1860; d Los Angeles, CA, c. 1900).

American architect . He received little formal architectural training, having had a brief apprenticeship in Dayton in the architectural office of his uncle Luthor Peters (d 1921), followed by a period as a draughtsman in the office of Sumner P. Hunt (1865–1938) in Los Angeles, where he moved in 1891 for health reasons. In 1893 his first and only major work was constructed. The Bradbury Building ( see fig. ), on Third Avenue and Broadway, invokes 19th-century traditions of industrial and commercial architecture, particularly those of the early Chicago school, with its steel-frame construction and Romanesque details. The oldest remaining commercial building in the central city, it was restored in the early 1990s. Drab and undistinguished on its exterior, the interior of the five-storey building opens into a light-flooded court, surrounded by series of ornate iron balconies, galleries, and open cage elevators and marble stairs, framed in masonry. The expressive potential of this open, light-filled construction is seen even in the glass letter-chutes that run parallel to the lifts. Wyman’s visionary concept was probably inspired by the imagery in Edward Bellamy’s utopian novel ...

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Paul Apodaca, Mick Gidley, Deborah A. Middleton, G. Lola Worthington, Margaret Moore Booker, Andrea Laforet, Joanne Danford-Cordingly, J. Garth Taylor, Kate C. Duncan, Marvin Cohodas, Andrew Hunter Whiteford, Christian F. Feest, Edwin L. Wade, Paula A. Baxter, Carol Herselle Krinsky, Aldona Jonaitis and Mary E. Graham

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Kathryn Greenthal and Marcus Whiffen

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Paul Apodaca, Mick Gidley, Deborah A. Middleton, G. Lola Worthington, Margaret Moore Booker, Andrea Laforet, Joanne Danford-Cordingly, J. Garth Taylor, Kate C. Duncan, Marvin Cohodas, Andrew Hunter Whiteford, Christian F. Feest, Edwin L. Wade, Paula A. Baxter, Carol Herselle Krinsky, Aldona Jonaitis and Mary E. Graham

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Kathryn Greenthal and Marcus Whiffen

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Jocelyne Mathieu

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