Author(s): Debora Wood
Chicago-born architect Marion Mahony Griffin (1871-1961) is known primarily for a magnificent drafting style that incorporated architectural plans into dramatic and stylized landscapes. Yet standard histories of early twentieth-century architecture have not fully recognized her pioneering work, which went far beyond her early contributions to the Prairie School. "Marion Mahony Griffin: Drawing the Form of Nature" is the first book devoted to Mahony Griffin's graphic work and presents a new critical interpretation of her art. Marion Mahony Griffin was the second woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with a degree in architecture and the first woman licensed to practice architecture in Illinois. After years of freelance drafting and design - most famously for Frank Lloyd Wright - she and her husband, architect Walter Burley Griffin, embarked on a career that catapulted them from Chicago to Australia in 1914 after winning the international competition to design the Federal Capital of Australia at Canberra. Marion Mahony Griffin's graphic art is defined by her innovative representations of nature.
Her presentation drawings clearly illustrate that architectural design and forms of the natural landscape are inseparable. Botanical forms are also woven into her children's book illustrations and murals and are the subject of the series of "Forest Portraits" she made in Australia. The many illustrations in this book include vintage photographs of Mahony Griffin's life and work and commercial illustrations that have previously never been published, new photographs of her public murals, full-page color plates of her architectural renderings and "Forest Portraits", as well as an exclusive color facsimile of the "Forest Portraits" and captions as found in the New-York Historical Society's copy of Marion Mahony Griffin's unpublished memoir "The Magic of America."
"The first work devoted entirely to Marion Mahony Griffin's exquisite architectural and botanical drawings....[The book is] a very important resource in the growing body of scholarship on the life and work of Marion Mahony Griffin. Publishing passages from 'The Magic of America' is a great service to both the scholarly and general readership." - Pauline Saliga, Executive Director, Society of Architectural Historians and Charnley-Persky House Museum Foundation, Chicago"
Debora Wood is senior curator at the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art at Northwestern University. Her recent exhibits include Maybelle Stamper: Works on Paper and Currents: 25 Years of Collecting Modern and Contemporary Prints.