Living in America: Frank Lloyd Wright, Harlem, and Modern Housing

October 1 – December 17, 2017
The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Art Gallery, Columbia University, New York, New York

The exhibition’s narrative takes the form of two interwoven plotlines, developed through displays of project-specific drawings, photographs, and other material dating from the late 1920s to the late 1950s. One plotline tracks the Broadacre scheme as it plays out in Wright’s subsequent work, scattered around the country; the other tracks the development of public housing in Harlem, ending just outside the gallery, adjacent to Columbia’s new campus. Both stories connect social institutions, such as the nuclear family, with economic structures, such as private property or its alternatives. In Wright’s incompletely realized “American Dream” of exurban living we witness lines of race, class, and gender being drawn. Harlem’s public housing complexes draw similar lines. They also, however, acknowledge a right—the right to housing—that is actively forgotten in America today.