Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Architecture of the Republican National Convention

An art review, interestingly, from Christopher Hawthorne, at the Los Angeles Times, "Party Crasher: The GOP Drew Inspiration From Frank Lloyd Wright for Its Stage Design, but An Unintended Message Might Be Sent":
Barack Obama had his Greek columns. Mitt Romney is turning to Frank Lloyd Wright.

When the Republican National Convention begins Monday inside the Tampa Bay Times Forum, a 19,500-seat arena in Tampa, Fla., that's home during hockey season to the NHL's Lightning, the stage will be crowded with large video screens framed in wood. Actually the "wood" will be made of vinyl and various laminates, but it'll read on television as cherry, mahogany and walnut.

The inspiration for the set, said Jim Fenhagen, lead production designer for the convention, is Wright's residential architecture, which often featured long horizontal bands of wood-framed windows.

The Wright references, which Fenhagen said he pulled together after a couple of simple Google searches, are relatively faint. They draw from the architect's most approachable domestic designs — mostly the Prairie Style houses of his early career — rather than his most radical buildings. They're more Oak Park than Fallingwater, more Robie House than Guggenheim Museum.

Still, in the context of a national political convention, where every symbolic choice is sure to be scrutinized, there are more than a few risks in going with Frank Lloyd Wright as your architectural touchstone. And I wonder how many of them the Romney campaign has fully considered.
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