On The Block: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Sturges House Masterpiece Up At Auction This MonthAuthor:Philip Ferrato
Where: 449 N. Skyewiay Road, Brentwood Heights
What: Frank Lloyd Wright’s first Usonian house in California, built in 1939 under the supervision of Wright’s local architect John Lautner for a Lockheed engineer named George D. Sturges. The historic, roughly 1200-square-foot house will be auctioned by LA Modern Auctions on February 21 along with some of its original Wright-designed furniture.
Hovering like a bird of prey over a steep slope, the cantilevered house has had a number of owners, but for almost the past fifty years it was home to Jack Larson, the tweedy, goofy Jimmy Olsen of the Adventures of Superman and James Bridges, acclaimed screenwriter (China Syndrome) and director of films like Urban Cowboy. Proceeds of the sale will go to the Bridges/Larson Foundation, and includes the couple’s superb art collection. Longtime supporters of the arts in Los Angeles, their collection is especially strong in works by David Hockney. Below, the dining area with porcelain from Wright’s Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, a Warhol portrait of Jane Fonda, a Hockney and an Alex Katz painting.
Needs Work: Recently quoted in Curbed LA, Los Angeles Modern Auction owner Peter Loughry said ”The condition of the house is not great, it needs a lot of work. When Jack and Jim bought it in 1967, they hired John Lautner to restore it. Lautner worked for Wright and was the architect on this specific project. It now needs to be restored again, but the good news is that it has all the right things wrong with it. It needs decisions to be made by somebody like a Lautner.”
Full Disclosure: Almost every time I’ve visited Los Angeles over the past twenty years, I’ve managed to drive past this house, get out of the car, and stare up at in wonder. It’s that great.
More: Check out LA Modern Auctions website for more images of the Sturges house and the individual lots in the sale. Below, some of Wright’s furniture, a lamp by John Lautner designed for the house, and Lot No. 142, Alex Katz’s Here’s To You, a 1962 oil on panel estimated to bring between $80,000-$120,000.