You cannot see all sides of anything at once. A Frank Lloyd Wright building demands, at any one moment, that you choose from which angle, inside or out, in which hallway or on which terrace, to stand in awe.


You cannot grasp the whole of such things in one instant. You must take them in parts and develop a sum response. Probably in your head. Perhaps years later.


Architecture is special in that it never allows us even the false comfort of looking at every detail in one glance. I say “false comfort,” because when you look at a painting, you often think you are seeing it all at once. Impossible. Whether a Chinese scroll with all its minute enticements or a Pollock (God help us). Unless a work is really—I mean, really simple. Non-existent?


Even an empty museum will change with changing light. You’ve got to come back, see it again. Each time it’s different. Move closer. Appreciate the texture of the white painted walls. Or don’t.


And it’s not just painting or art. It’s everything.


Where you live, for example. Just as you cannot be both inside and outside a Lloyd-Wright, neither can you enjoy pure city and country life at the same time—try as the Japanese may. Rather, you must experience both worlds at separate times then combine them in your memory. Central Park’s a nice reminder for those who have once, if only for one brief moment, been outside of concrete, trash and metal.



April 2007