Book History

Author: Frank Lloyd Wright
Frank Lloyd Wright is one of the most renowned American architects of the 20th century. Wright revolutionized architectural style creating landmarks such as Fallingwater, the Guggenheim Museum and the Robie House. In addition, Wright authored hundreds of books that chronicled various aspects of his own career as well as the architectural field. He died in 1959, the same year that Drawings was released.
Bibliographic Information
Horizon Press published only one edition of Drawings for a Living Architecture in 1959 for the Edgar J. Kaufmann Foundation as well as the Bear Run Foundation. Kaufman was the original owner of Wright's iconic Fallingwater and remained close friends with the architect until his death. In total Drawings is 255 pages, containing over 200 sketches that range, in date, from the late 19th century to the 1950s. The introduction includes forwards by Giuseppe Samona (architect), A. Hyatt Mayor (art historian and museum curator) and Mildred Schmetz.
Physical Description
Drawings for a Living Architecture is categorized as an oversized book, measuring 11 ½ by 13 ½ inches. The hard exterior cover is a rusty color with a blindstamped title on the front and gilt lettering on the side. The images of Wright’s sketches are all printed using lithography and in addition there is also an illustrated cover jacket. The paper is Stoneridge text paper and the prints are done using lithography, a technique used for printing art. The J. F Topley Company did the binding for Drawings.
Illustrator: Frank Lloyd Wright
See Author Information
Publisher: Horizon Press
Horizon Press is the publisher of Drawings, as well as several other major Wright works. Horizon was a relatively small press based out of New York and specialized in primarily art books. There were one of the few art presses left during the 1950s due to the high costs of production and relatively low return for art books. The press became the New Horizon Press in the 1980s, which now produces scientific texts.
There is only one edition of Drawings that was printed. Currently, the book is not available in electronic form.
Cleary, Richard L. Merchant Prince and Master Builder: Edgar J. Kaufmann and Frank Lloyd Wright. Seattle: University of Washington Press,1999.

Croft, Paul. Stone Lithography. New York: A&C Black Publishers. 2001.

Toker, Franklin. Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J Kauffman, and America’s Most Extraordinary House, New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2003.

Wright, Frank Lloyd. Drawings for a Living Architecture. New York: Horizon Press, 1959.
Drawings for a Living Architecture was published on behalf of the Edgar J. Kauffman Foundation, who was a close friend of Wright and the original owner of Fallingwater. Edgar Kauffman had commissioned Wright to design to what would become Fallingwater, a choice that solidified Wright’s fame and created a life long bond between client and architect. Released during a time when TV and radio were infringing on the popularity of books, there is a clear reliance of Wright’s fame as the main point for appeal. The reason why Drawings was a highly desired book in 1959 is the same reason it remains collectable today; it is one of the only high quality pieces of Wright’s body of work that was released in the period surrounding his death. For society in 1959, the name Frank Lloyd Wright carried significant weight that attracted many people to publications associated with him. The fact that Wright was intertwined into social understanding about architecture allows Drawings to take its significance from not only its method of compilation but also the social worth attributed to the association with Wright. Drawings defines Wright’s career as seen at the point of his death and helps to embody the ideal image of a man that is idolized by so many.

Physically Drawings is 250 pages of Wright’s own architectural sketches of homes, buildings and even interior design concepts. In essence Drawings is a high quality coffee table book that primarily appeals to admirers of Wright’s work. The quality of the book is defined by the technique used in its print production, a process known as lithography. By the time of Drawings release, this print process was over a hundred years old and was replaced countless times by newer and more efficient methods of printing. However, lithography held its own because of its superiority in art reproductions as compared to more modern techniques. The only drawback, to using lithography, is the amount of skill required. Lithography not only requires the printer to sketch an image into a printing plate but understand the balance of water and ink used during the application process. To replicate over two hundred of Wright’s sketches for Drawings not only took a considerable amount of time but also speaks to the audience the publishers were trying to target. The amount of work that went into producing just this single book, that only printed one edition, reveals that Drawings production was intended to create a truly special collectors piece. Not only was Drawings one of the first comprehensive collections of Wright’s works, its use of lithography helped to capture a level of detail that would honor his architectural genius.

Frank Lloyd Wright is one of America’s most distinguished architects, who created some of the most iconic structures of the 20th century. He is responsible for the design of sites such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York and Fallingwater in Pennsylvania, which now rank amongst the most socially valued pieces of architectural design in the country. Drawings was one of the first books to illustrate works from every period of Wright's career. Releasing the book immediately after his death was a guarantee for success amongst the public as it captured a part of Wright for audiences to hold on to. The book is a testament to Wright’s fame and standing amongst his fans that continued to demand his work even after his death. Drawings for a Living Architecture is a definitive piece of work that not only captures Wright’s career from the late 19th century up to the 1950s, but also is a testament to the value placed on him by society.

Submitted by Rachel Tippett
Published: 1959
Call Number: Over NA 737.W7 A443