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ADA LOUISE HUXTABLE for WSJ
The Guggenheim Museum has chosen to honor the 50th anniversary of its (you should pardon the word) iconic building by Frank Lloyd Wright with a monumental exhibition that pays tribute to the architect’s life work and fills the spiral ramp from top to bottom, or bottom to top, depending on how you choose to see it. Curiously, the only meaningful gesture the installation makes to its dramatic setting is the view of the gorgeous curtain Wright designed for the Hillside Theater at Taliesin in 1952, glowing colorfully across the spiral, and the presentation of the Guggenheim Museum itself as the climax of the show. The display neither challenges nor exploits the building’s unique spatial possibilities. It would fit just as well into any set of conventional galleries.
This is not from any lack of thoughtful consideration of the material and its presentation. But what “Frank Lloyd Wright: From Within Outward,” a collaborative effort of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation and the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, really pays tribute to is the completeness, depth and beauty of the Frank Lloyd Wright archives—assiduously collected, protected and now meticulously maintained at Taliesin West, Wright’s home and studio in the Arizona desert—and, not least, to the long-term, dedicated stewardship of Bruce Brooks Pfeiffer, director of the archives.