Home of the Faraway Heart
Bruce Goff's Prairie Postmodernism
Bruce Goff established a home and studio in Price Tower in Bartlesville, Oklahoma in 1955. He had been close to the Price family for years, particularly Joe Price, an avid collector of Edo-period art who became a patron of Goff’s eccentric and imaginative architecture. In 1956, Price commissioned Goff to build him “an escape from the pressures of society…a world emphasizing ultimate comfort both mentally and physically…without the barriers of preconceived notions, customs and habits.” The result, Shin’en Kan (meaning “home of the faraway heart” in Japanese and named after the Edo artist Ito Jakuchu’s studio), became one of Goff’s most fully-realized (and lavish) expressions of his idiosyncratic style.
Built on an open, triangular floor plan, the home was centered around a sunken hexagonal seating area with plush white carpet (visitors were instructed to take their shoes off at the door). Thin strips of iridescent plastic hung from the ceiling—which was covered in white goose feathers—walls were coated with gold-anodized aluminum and supports were constructed from craggy stones and turquoise glass cullets. Price’s collection of Japanese screens and monumental scrolls decorated the luxe space.
The present lots are original architectural elements from Shin’en Kan; the design of the windows and doors echoes the shape of the central living space, the windows casting shadowy mosaics of hexagons and triangles inside the home. A confounding and entrancing mix of bachelor-pad-grotto, escapist ski-lodge and Japanese spa, Shin’en Kan is one of Goff’s most significant works—so close to his heart that his gravestone features a cullet of glass from the building. Sadly, Shin’en Kan was destroyed by arson in 1996. Its importance endures now only through a small number of furnishings and elements salvaged from the home.
Architecture should express the nature of the individual and not be a matter of fashion.