The film called Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Building and Legacy in Japan examines the experiences of Frank Lloyd Wright in Japan as well as his impact on Japanese architecture (Severns and Mori n. p.). While exploring the greatest monuments in Japan, such as a school, an embassy, and hotels, the documentary introduces viewers into the marvelous architect’s genius and his obsession with Japanese culture.
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The great architect was devoted to Japanese culture and draw aesthetic inspiration from buildings. In addition, the film discloses Wright’s great interest in the vernacular of shrines, temples and homes. Viewing these conventional structures, the artist found the validation of the organic design principles that have been developed by Wright for almost a decade. In contrast to Wright’s functional architecture, Buchanan’s vision on the scope of architecture is more associated with utility.
The video begins with the analysis of Japanese culture within an 1890-2004 period. While carefully investigating a hundred-years experience, the author tried to inherit the main elements of Japan architecture. However, Wright still provides his insights into this vernacular architecture. Being involved in the ethnic and cultural tendencies of building, Wright pays attention to functional elements of architecture and attempts to create a multifunctional space where all parts of a construction are united in one whole.
Judging from the video depicting Wright’s greatest masterpieces, the architect tries to strike the balance between rendering the essence of architecture through aesthetic implications and its utility. At the same time, he denied some important functional elements like door, believing that they cannot be regarded as an inherent component of a construction.
Wright’s vision of architecture rigidly juxtaposes the one presented by Beverly Buchanan, a famous African American artist. Although she also depicts vernacular architecture in African, the buildings painted and sculptured in her work are more reminiscent of utilitarian tendencies.
However, the true functionalism of Buchanan’s architecture does not deprive her sculpture of their aesthetics and ethnic elements. Apparently, the functionalism itself is a part of African culture comparing to those presented in Japan where the priority is given to refined forms and space allusions.
Therefore, one cannot consider the artist works less aesthetic and sculptural. From theoretical point of view, the practice of “aesthetics” as presented by both great artists is aimed at improving appearance. In this regard, both Wright’s and Buchanan’s works disclose the historic value of art and aesthetics of sculpture (Sayre 78). Hence, depending on the role a particular work plays, the sculpture should be, first of all, accepted by the audience that can evaluate its actual value.
In conclusion, a deep analysis of Buchanan’s sculptures and painting, and Wright’s architecture reveals new dimensions and goals pursued by the art. In particular, it puts forward the idea that the construction of a three-dimensional space involves the architect’s intention to combine physical characteristics, technological advances, and decorative elements.
In this regard, Wright’s works are more impacted by the Japanese vernacular art where the priority was given to rendering aesthetics, but not utility. In contrast, Buchanan works are more oriented on utilitarian architectural tendencies. One way of another, both artistic movements are directed at demonstration the historical and cultural heritage of a particular civilization. In this regard, though the artist’s works are deprived of decorative elements, they still preserve an aesthetic value.
Magnificent Obsession: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Buildings and Legacy in Japan. Dir. Karen Severns and Koichi Mori. Perf. Donald Richie (voice), Kismet Productions, 2005.
Sayre, Henry M. A Word of Art. US: Pearson Education, 2009. Print.