Many Mexican artists came to the U.S. and were inspired by their new surroundings to create different types of work. David Alfaro Siqueiros was inspired by the political climate in the U.S. He combined this subject with new and innovative tools to create murals like Street Meeting. In this mural, Siqueiros used a spray gun to create a modern fresco directly onto cement. Artists from the U.S. looked to Mexican styles to find new ways of working, too.
The image below shows one of the four Frank Lloyd Wright “textile block” houses built in Los Angeles.
Frank Lloyd Wright is known for his innovative ideas and designs. Most architects in Los Angeles were making stucco or plaster houses that resembled Spanish missions or colonial buildings in the early 20th century. Wright looked beyond colonialism, back to indigenous designs to make large, cement-block houses.
Wright cast the blocks in geometric patterned molds held together by joints and rods running through the blocks. He hoped that by making the blocks decorative, he would challenge the idea of cement as “ugly” or “lowly.”
The Ennis house fits into a larger movement called “Mayan Revival Architecture.” In this movement, artists and architects began looking at pre-Columbian buildings and motifs for inspiration.
Below is a photograph of some of the buildings at the ruins of Uxmal in the state of Yucatán, Mexico.
Uxmal, Detail of the Nunnery Quadrangle with Adivino Pyramid in the background. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons, GFDL v. 1.2, 2007
Compare/Contrast: What are the differences between the Ennis House and the ruins at Uxmal? How are the buildings similar? Think about the texture, design and size of both buildings. Are they more alike or dissimilar?
Wright looked beyond the colonial style that other architects were reproducing and connected to the distant past. The results are places like Ennis House, which is still used to film movies and TV shows.
Imagine a scene at Ennis House. Who is there and what are they doing?
To learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright, visit website.