Step Inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House, Which Just Received a Temporary Makeover

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Hoping to posthumously please Frank Lloyd Wright with a contemporary intervention inside one of his best-known works is an arguably fruitless creative exercise. It’s a good thing, then, in the case of the 1919-designed Hollyhock House, which sits atop Olive Hill in Los Angeles, that there is an equally important historical muse: Wright’s client, Aline Barnsdall, the iconoclastic oil heiress and arts patron who proved to be a formidable match for the architect’s strong will. The duo’s dueling relationship is now the muse behind “Entanglements: Louise Bonnet and Adam Silverman at Hollyhock House,” a first-of-its-kind installation opening today within the landmark residence.

“There was this push and pull, but they had to work together,” artist Louise Bonnet tells AD PRO. “In a way, I have more interest and respect for her,” adds her co-exhibitor, the ceramicist Adam Silverman. The artists detected common threads between Wright and Barnsdall’s dynamic—“balance and suspension, and pulling and squeezing,” as Bonnet defines it—and their own creative processes. The artists leaned heavily into the concept of opposing forces to inspire several new original works each for “Entanglements,” which marks the artisan couple’s first shared presentation.

The exhibition also represents a first; Hollyhock House has never before hosted a contemporary art installation. Bonnet and Silverman managed their expectations accordingly when they contacted Hollyhock House curator Abbey Chamberlain Brach last summer to gauge her willingness to host a show of the sort. Fortunately, their timing was just right: Hollyhock House, which was one of eight Wright buildings (and LA’s first) to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019, had just reopened following a two-year restoration plan, and the curatorial team was eager to “think more creatively,” Chamberlain Brach says. “These are layered spaces and there are so many voices. To add new ones to our narrative is really important.”

Those new voices—Bonnet’s and Silverman’s, to be exact—can now be perceived as soon as visitors pass through the residence’s narrow entrance. Bonnet’s highly emotive oil paintings, such as Hollyhock Green, featuring tightly grasped, disembodied hands in the entry, engage in conversation with Silverman’s complexly layered ceramics. To the right, in a light-flooded pocket of space between the loggia and the living room, is Hollyhock Gold, a larger-scale fleshy grip placed alongside another ceramic vessel. The choreography between the pieces explores physical and conceptual boundaries of attachments: “They’re always joined,” Silverman says of the strategic pairing.

Bonnet connects the home’s quality of light and color to the exaggerated gestures and pigment-rich palette employed in her paintings. As for Silverman, the property’s material selection served as inspiration—and ingredients too. Ash from nearby olive trees and water sourced from the Pacific Ocean were added to select glazes.

The integrations are also a nod to Wright, who references earth, air, fire, and water in the design of the home’s pièce de résistance, the commanding hearth. Now perched below the hearth, with its geometric cast concrete bas-relief, are Cosmos Jars, two gradient-blue conical sculptures by Silverman, that recall the water that once filled the gold mosaic-lined moat in front of the statement fireplace.

Still, these exhibited works don’t overshadow that push-and-pull between Barnsdall and Wright. Visible from the entry, for instance, is plaster replica of Three Dancing Nymphs (in place of the original, circa-1st-century Roman marble relief panel that Barnsdall acquired in 1921), which perches on a stand the collector herself improvised without Wright’s approval. “This vignette is Aline Barnsdall making a statement up front and center about her art collecting in dialogue with Frank Lloyd Wright’s work of art,” says Chamberlain Brach. Still making her voice heard, indeed.

“Entanglements: Louise Bonnet and Adam Silverman at Hollyhock House” is open during public visiting hours, Thursday through Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m PST, with extended hours during Frieze Los Angeles on Wednesday, February 15, through Sunday, February 19, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m PST.

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