More and more, so it seems to me, light is the beautifier of the building.
– Frank Lloyd Wright
What happens when a work of art designed for a particular location is removed losing all or a substantial part of its meaning?
For the Martin House, Frank Lloyd Wright conceived of sixteen primary patterns of art glass—or light screens as he liked to call them—to visually connect exterior views of nature with interior spaces. Glass was a material used prominently by Wright to harness light, beautify his buildings, and above all else to create a sensory experience for those who once inhabited the Martin House or nowadays encounter it as a visitor.
With a design philosophy focused on integration, Wright never intended for his light screens to be appreciated as artifacts on their own. Instead, each element of the Martin House is essential to the understanding of the total work of art and as a place where architecture, art, and landscape are united as one.
How Wright’s art glass became separated from the Martin House remains in some instances unclear. Yet, despite the property’s history—marked by years of abandonment and the realization of an unprecedented restoration project—reintegration of Wright’s vision has been successfully achieved and with reassembly of missing original art glass well underway.
Earlier this year, we were delighted to share the good news regarding the return of a Martin House Pier Cluster Window through the generosity of a private donor. With the addition of this piece back into the collection, the Martin House now boasts two complete light units on either side of the front entry—each containing 21 individual panels of Wright-designed glass including the casements, sidelights, a central laylight, and accompanying laylight frames.
In October, the Martin House announced the transfer of two additional examples of art glass as a result of a collaborative agreement with the Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art. These objects consist of a Martin House Tree of Life Single Pot Window, as well as one other Martin House Pier Cluster Window.
We gratefully applaud the Kirkland for their commitment to good collections stewardship in the act of reuniting these site-specific works. As a result, the public will be able to view these light screens in the context in which they were created—within the architectural spaces of Wright’s Martin House. These light screens are expected to arrive on site in late spring and will be on permanent display as of June 2022.
We warmly welcome these artworks back home – right where they belong.