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Frank Lloyd Wright Colors at the New York Guggenheim

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The Guggenheim Goes Yellow
When the Guggenheim Museum opened in 1959, the exterior was a pale, creamy yellow

When the Guggenheim Museum opened in 1959, the exterior was a pale, creamy yellow

Photo © The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York
Rejecting Frank Lloyd Wright's ideas, art advisor Hilla Rebay suggested alternate color ideas for the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.

"Yellow marble," she wrote in a 1945 letter, "and if not, green."

Frank Lloyd Wright relented. In 1952 he proposed that the Guggenheim Museum be constructed with concrete and smooth, cream colored marble gravel. Several years later, marble was rejected as too expensive. Wright approved a paint swatch labeled PV-020, a stock color from the Cocoon line of vinyl coatings by Hollingshead Company.

Known as Buff, PV-020 was a pale yellow brown. But Buff might not have been Frank Lloyd Wright's preference. Some reports show that he later selected a much deeper taupe color, 2gc dull (matte), from a popular sample book, the Color Harmony Manual. Which color did Wright really want?

As it happened, neither color was used. When the Guggenheim Museum opened in October 1959, the color had been changed to a creamy yellow similar to Benjamin Moore™ HC-35 Powell Buff Powell Buff. Frank Lloyd Wright died in April 1959, so he never saw or approved the final color.

Next: The Guggenheim Turns White

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