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"Sondern-Adler House" Table by Frank Lloyd Wright

About

The Sondern-Adler House, an historic residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1939, was built in 1940 (next door to painter Thomas Hart Benton's home!) in a leafy suburb of Kansas City, Missouri. The house was originally fitted with custom-made furniture also designed by Wright, including this exquisite table made of old-growth tidewater cypress -- the same kind of wood that the inside and outside of the Sondern-Adler House itself was built from. Noted for its durability as well as its beauty, this species of cypress in native to the American South, and was much favored by Frank Lloyd Wright in his custom furniture during the post-war period. This table, a minimalist reduction of "table-ness" that brings to mind the similarly slab-based furniture works of Donald Judd, also evokes the powerful form and proportions of a Japanese Shinto torii (鳥居) gate. The torii would have been most familiar to Wright, even unconsciously insistent upon his imagination, as the architect was a great Japanophile from his earliest awakenings as an aesthete (the young Wright's very first travel outside America was to Japan, not to Europe, and he visited and worked in Japan throughout a long career). The figured grain of the cypress wood on the table is lovely, as is the general condition of the piece. PROVENANCE: This table was owned by collector of architecture & design (and famous entrepreneur) Thomas S. Monaghan before he sold it, along with much of his collection, at Christie's New York in June, 1993 (lot 123). It was most recently in a private collection in Virginia. REFERENCE: Storrer, William Allin. The Frank Lloyd Wright Companion. University Of Chicago Press, 2006. (S.279 and S.307)

Details

  • Date of manufacture
    1939-1940
  • Period
  • Materials and techniques
    Cypress
  • Condition
    Good. Lovely vintage condition. None of the wear is objectionable: minor scuffs to legs and the top, a small dent to one corner of the top, and tiny dents to some of the top's edges..
  • Wear
    Wear consistent with age and use.
  • Dimensions

    H 18.75 in. x W 29.75 in. x D 18.75 in.

    H 47.63 cm x W 75.57 cm x D 47.63 cm

  • Seller location
    Los Angeles, CA
  • Reference number
    LU80917681223

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About Frank Lloyd Wright (Designer)

Without question the greatest architect the United States has ever produced, Frank Lloyd Wright and his philosophy of “organic architecture” — of buildings that exist in harmony with their natural surroundings — had a profound influence on the shape of modern life. Wright gave us some of the most elegant and iconic structures in America: residences such as “Fallingwater,” in rural Pennsylvania, the Robie House in Chicago, and “Taliesin,” Wright’s own home; and masterful institutional structures that include the Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois, the Johnson Wax headquarters in Racine, Wisconsin, and the Guggenheim Museum in New York.

     Whenever possible, Wright designed the furniture for his projects, to ensure an affinity between a building’s exterior and interior. Wright’s wooden chairs and tables for his “Prairie Houses” of the early 1900s have sleek, attenuated forms, influenced by both the simplicity of traditional Japanese design and the work of Gustav Stickley and other designers of the Arts and Crafts movement. For Taliesin and several residential projects, Wright designed severely geometric chairs that are marvels of reductivist design. He revisited many of these forms in the 1950s in furniture licensed to the firm Henredon, adding a decorative frieze-like element to the edges of tables and stools.

     The works on these pages also show how happily Wright embraced new forms and materials. His desks and chairs for Johnson Wax have a streamlined look and use tubular steel to the same effect as designer Warren McArthur, who collaborated with Wright in the interiors of the Arizona Biltmore Hotel. For the Price Tower (1956) in Oklahoma, Wright designed angular wooden desks as well as upholstered pedestal chairs made of chromed steel — audacious furniture for his tallest completed building project. The beauty of Frank Lloyd Wright’s furniture designs is that while many of us wish we could live in one of houses, his chairs, tables, and sofas connect us directly to his architecture, and to the history he made.

Read more about Frank Lloyd Wright in Introspective Magazine

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