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Two visionary masterpieces of American architecture, razed to erect a parking lot and a truck stop, are memorialized this fall in an exhibition at Chicago’s Wrightwood 659.

Through two distinct presentations, Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright explores Chicago’s Garrick Theatre, designed by Louis H. Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Building in Buffalo, New York.

“Reconstructing the Garrick: Adler & Sullivan’s Lost Masterpiece” investigates the full life span of this long-lost treasure. Opened in 1892, the Garrick Theatre melded technology and creative architectural practice, most evident in the building’s 1,300-seat theater, with its magnificent ornamentation. Chicago-based architect John Vinci curated this presentation, which grew out of his drawing project to understand unknown aspects of the building’s interior circulation and construction. These drawings will be presented for the first time alongside archives, salvaged architectural ornaments and fragments, and haunting archival photographs by Richard Nickel. Tim Samuelson, Chris Ware, and Eric Nordstrom co-curated the presentation.

Frank Lloyd Wright, “Demolition of the Larkin Company Administration Building, June 14, 1950” (1950) (collection of the Buffalo History Museum, Larkin Company photograph collection, picture .L37, #2-77)

“Reimagining the Larkin: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Modern Icon” revisits a 1906 commission for a progressive mail-order conglomerate: Buffalo’s Larkin Company, which provided employee benefits and humane conditions for a largely female workforce. This presentation featuring 3D models, digital re-creations, artifacts, and Wright-designed furniture and modular filing systems was curated by Jonathan D. Katz, Associate Professor, University of Pennsylvania.

Reservations must be made to visit Romanticism to Ruin: Two Lost Works of Sullivan and Wright, on view Fridays and Saturdays from September 24 through November 27, 2021.

To reserve tickets, visit wrightwood659.org.

Frank Lloyd Wright, “Larkin Administration Building, 1934” (1934) (collection of the Buffalo History Museum, Larkin Company photograph collection, picture .L37, # 1-2a)
Frank Lloyd Wright, “Larkin Administration Building demolition, May 1950” (collection of the Buffalo History Museum, Larkin Company photograph collection, picture .L37, #2-75)
Richard Nickel, “Interior Garrick Theatre during demolition” (1952) (image courtesy Ryerson & Burnham Libraries, Art Institute of Chicago)

The Alphawood Foundation Chicago sponsored the exhibition and its related publications.

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