Trailheads presents information and details about the exhibits, events and programs hosted by the historic sites and museums on PHMC's Pennsylvania Trails of History.

Fallingwater, designed in 1935 by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Edgar J. Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh, is an American icon, acknowledged worldwide as an architectural masterpiece. Situated above a waterfall on Bear Run, a mountain stream the Kaufmanns loved, at Mill Run in Fayette County, Fallingwater helped define twentieth-century modernism. Upon its completion, the Kaufmann commission became instantly famous, appearing on a cover of Time and showcased as the subject of an exhibition mounted by New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Fallingwater’s famous southwest elevation has been included in introductions to college art classes for decades. A favorite and a “natural” for photographers, Wright’s masterwork is a daunting subject for painters — perhaps because expectations for accuracy are so great or because the subtle qualities that define it are difficult to capture — but artist Félix de la Concha succeeds.

As a young boy accompanying his father on fishing trips, de la Concha, born in Leon, Spain, in 1962, painted landscapes. From 1981 to 1985, he studied at Madrid’s Facultad de Bellas Artes. At the age of twenty-seven, in 1989, he won the prestigious Prix de Rome at the Academia de Bellas Artes and lived and worked in Rome until 1994. He has exhibited throughout the world, and his work is included in a number of permanent collections.

De la Concha spent more than a year at Fallingwater studying its nuances and subtleties, and his paintings affirm more than just the architectural ideas beneath the surface. “I question the impossibility of painting what one sees,” he says. “My focus on accuracy and details allude to the Buddhist path of losing one’s self, to an ‘aesthetic of the ascetic.’” Through his art, he shows how experience interacts with ideas through images, to give viewers not just Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater, but one that is decidedly his own. His works beckon viewers into the house. In a building with many focal points, he captures the incidental as well as the significant. The artist reveals Fallingwater as a dwelling, as a collection, and as a site, wedded with nature. Several of de la Concha’s paintings highlight the Kauffman family’s taste in art, such as an aquatint by Pablo Picasso in the master bedroom and a sculpture by Mardonio Magaña (1866–1947) on a terrace. Others master the ephemeral, such as the play of light on glass at night or shadows on snow in winter. In a series of seven large vertical canvases, the artist turns his attention to the waterfall over which Fallingwater perches.

“Fallingwater en Perspectiva: Félix de la Concha Paints Frank Lloyd Wright’s House on the Waterfall” will be exhibited at The State Museum of Pennsylvania from January 29 to March 25, 2008. The exhibit will include a series of eight panels allowing museumgoers to experience the panorama of Fallingwater’s living room. Painted over the course of several weeks, the 360-degree panorama is continuous, subtly shifting through morning, noon, and evening, and back again through a cycle of days and seasons. With remarkable technique, de la Concha’s ability to capture the color of a precise time of day is brilliant. Intended to hang in dynamic, cantilever flotation, the panels mirror Wright’s vision of Fallingwater as well as the driving force of the house.