05 August 2017

completing the circle

On Friday, I went up to Buffalo to hear one of the FLW 150 lectures at the Darwin Martin House, being held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the birth of Frank Lloyd Wright. This one was by Michael Desmond of LSU on "Shifting Perspectives of Form: Frank Lloyd Wright's Circular Houses." Circular houses would get me every time. It seems so central, so utopian, so right, so Palladio. Desmond talked more, however, about how Wright broke the circle to pull our eye toward a view or through the house. Desmond lyrically traced Wright's career, starting with the Blossom House, the plan of which uses the 9-square grid which comes from Palladio and the Villa Rotunda. But the 9-square is easy to encircle. It tames nature. It gives order. I really enjoyed the lecture and it was evocative. Many of the circular houses that Desmond talked about are relatively late works and not many were built. Desmond noted that Wright left more than 700 unbuilt projects.

In the question-and-answer period after the talk, Desmond paraphrased Ralph Waldo Emerson as saying that if we see an arc, we fill in the circle. And that is what Wright was doing, except when he was purposefully playing with the circles or arcs to disrupt the circle. It was then I realized that I'd experienced a similar relationship to incomplete circles earlier in the day.

One of the exhibitions on view at the Albright-Knox was "Drawing: The Beginning of Everything" and one of the works in the exhibition was Untitled (2011) by Jacob Kassay. On the left is a shaped canvas with an slightly curved right edge. On the right are two small panels with a line drawn in graphite on the wall, also slightly arced. Together, the arc shapes could form a circle but you have to complete the circle with your eyes.

Jacob Kassay
Untitled, 2011
Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo
Sarah Norton Goodyear Fund, 2011, 2011:49a-d

As I drove home in the rainy darkness, I kept myself company by singing "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" as Joan Baez sings it on David's Album.

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