The Aesthetics of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Organic Architecture: Hegel, Japanese Art, and Modernism
Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy
Curtis L Carter, Hilary K Snow, Katherine L Wells
aesthetics, architecture, Hegel, Japanese art, organic, Wright
THE AESTHETICS OF FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT’S ORGANIC ARCHITECTURE: HEGEL, JAPANESE ART, AND MODERNISM
Kenneth C Dahlin
The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, 2018
Under the Supervision of Professor Robert Greenstreet, PhD
The goal of this dissertation is to write the theory of organic architecture which Wright himself did not write. This is done through a comparison with GWF Hegel’s philosophy of art to help position Wright’s theory of organic architecture and clarify his architectural aesthetic. Contemporary theories of organicism do not address the aesthetic basis of organic architecture as theorized and practiced by Wright, and the focus of this dissertation will be to fill part of this gap. Wright’s organic theory was rooted in nineteenth-century Idealist philosophy where the aim of art is not the imitation of nature but the creation of beautiful objects which invite contemplation and express freedom. Wright perceived this quality in Japanese art and wove it into his organic theory.
This project is organized into three main categories from which Wright’s own works and writings of organic architecture are framed, two of which are affinities of his views and one which, by its contrast, provides additional definition. The second chapter, Foundation, lays the philosophical or metaphysical foundation and is a comparison of Hegel’s philosophy of art, including his Romantic stage of architecture, with Wright’s own theory. The third chapter, Formalism, relates the affinity between Japanese art and Wright’s own designs. Three case studies are here included, showing their correlation. The fourth chapter, Filter, contrasts early twentieth-century Modernist architecture with Wright’s own organicism. This provides a greater definition to Wright’s organicism as it takes clues from Wright’s own sense of discrimination between the contemporary modernism he saw and his own architecture. These three chapters lead to the proposal of a model theory of organic architecture in chapter five which is a structured theory of organic architecture with both historical and contemporary merit. This serves to provide a greater understanding of Wright’s form of the organic as an aesthetically based system, both in historic context, and as relevant for contemporary discourse.
Dahlin, Kenneth Charles, "The Aesthetics of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Organic Architecture: Hegel, Japanese Art, and Modernism" (2018). Theses and Dissertations. 1983.
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