When a pair of art and architecture aficionados from Vancouver decided to commission a re-creation of Richard Bock's and Frank Lloyd Wright's "Flower", faithful execution was a foremost concern. After receiving permission to reproduce the work from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, the couple selected artist Steve Reinmuth and his foundry, Reinmuth Bronze, to cast this historically significant sculpture.
The original "Flower" was designed and created by Richard Bock in collaboration with Frank Lloyd Wright for the Dana-Thomas House in Springfield, Illinois in 1902. This 12,000 square foot home is one of the best and most extensive examples of the early "Prairie Style" Frank Lloyd Wright was famed for. The entire property reflects the signature style of the master architect, from the interior and exterior structure to the oak furniture and the extensive stained glass, to the fountains and terra-cotta sculptures. The sculpture "Flower" is named for the poem etched on the back, "Flower in a Crannied Wall" by Alfred Tennyson.
Intended to be cast in bronze or carved in stone, the terra-cotta "Flower" sculpture was whitewashed in plaster and put on display after budgetary constraints prevented further progress. Over time, the clay dried out and the form started cracking under its own weight. Extremely fragile, this sculpture requires ongoing repair and maintenance. Bock also cast the clay form in plaster, which is on display outside at Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin. After 115 years of exposure to the elements, the details of this work are largely eroded away. Using the interior clay form at the Dana-Thomas House as a model, Steve Reinmuth created his interpretation of this treasured sculpture.
"Flower" as expressed by Steve Reinmuth is a an exceptional work of art. You can see a transition in that era's architectural visual idiom from Art Nouveau to Art Deco. The tall, thin skyscraper that the woman is contemplatively constructing presciently evokes architectural forms like the future Empire State Building, ca. 1930. Notably, the visual patterns of the spires remain faithful to Frank Lloyd Wright vision for the Dana-Thomas House itself. The chevron shapes, the sumac patterns and the small clusters of squares visible on the surface are reiterated in the extensive stained glass elements throughout the home.
The female figure embodies the the term "statuesque" with a graceful monumentality symbolic of creation itself. Read in conjunction with Tennyson's poem "Flower in a Crannied Wall", Frank Lloyd Wright's intention is to visually depict the significance of architecture as a spiritually elevating discipline that puts the very power of creation in humanity's hands.
Flower in the crannied wall
I pluck you out of the crannies
Hold you here root and all
In my Hand
But if I could understand
What you are
Root and all
And all in all
I should know
What God and Man is
We see this veritable goddess contemplating a small piece of the great mystery she is constructing seemingly out her own form. Like Tennyson's flower, she holds this building block of life, this object laden with potential in her hand. The spires she builds are allegorical for Wright's lofty aspirations for Architecture as an elevating endeavor and experience.
Wright was quoted as saying "I have never wanted to be finished. I have never wanted to feel that what I have done was the best I could do ... I have to be careful of that because that is poison to the creative spirit." This ideal is embodied in the forever incomplete nature of the construction the figure is building. Left undone, there is no limit to the possibility under creation.
Sourced from The Dana Thomas House website:
"The Dana-Thomas House (DTH) was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1902 for Susan Lawrence Dana, a forward-thinking socialite living in Springfield, Illinois. The home, the 72nd building designed by Wright, contains the largest collection of site-specific, original Wright art glass and furniture. Wright’s first “blank check” commission, the home has 35 rooms in the 12,000 square feet of living space which includes 3 main levels and 16 varying levels in all.
Rightfully regarded as a local treasure, the DTH is a gorgeous house museum. Following its acquisition of the House, the Illinois State Historic Preservation Agency undertook a major restoration project. The results yielded a beautifully preserved example of Mr. Wright’s genius.
Beyond the essence of an architectural masterpiece of international significance, the house is a brilliant showcase of craftsmanship in glass doors, windows and light fixtures; terra cotta sculpture and an exquisite mural; it is the best preserved and most complete of Frank Lloyd Wright’s early “Prairie” houses."
To learn more please visit the website here here.
Art is why I get up in the morning. The opportunity to be a matchmaker; to serve as liaison between the collector, the artist and the art.