Saturday, June 08, 2013

Retro Saturday: Happy 146th Birthday, Frank Lloyd Wright! A Miscellany Portrait of the Reprobate ‘World's Greatest Architect’

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“I.K”, [Frank Lloyd Wright] said with almost no prelude. “I.K, I have been conventional too long! I am a genius, I know no conventions, a genius knows no law. A genius must and will live his own life. From today I cast aside conventions; from today I live my own life!” That was the gist of a ten or fifteen minute prattle, in which the words 'genius', 'life', 'conventions' were flung about like confetti at a carnival. At first, I thought that as usual architecture was on his mind . . . but the next day the papers carried as an item of news that our genius had 'eloped with the wife of a client.'
- from The Autobiography of Irving K. Pond: The Sons of Mary and Elihu
It's been said that Frank Lloyd Wright's greatest creation may have been himself.  Through many rocky decades, he clung to his self-image of ‘world's greatest architect’, and by the time he died at 91 in 1959, he had convinced most of the rest of us, as well.  On this day, June 8th, that would have been Wright's 146th birthday, the old scoundrel's sorcery remains as potent and inspiring as ever, so what better time than provide this highly selective, impromptu portrait from our writings down through the years . . .
The Night Frank Lloyd Wright Spent in Hennepin County Jail was a direct consequence of Wright's willful liberation from his second wife.

Frank Lloyd Wright and the Japanese Print - The Art Institute had a great show last fall displaying many of the Japanese prints Wright had collected early on and sold to sustain himself during the lean times.  Among the prints were some of the original spectacular Japanese-influence renderings that had helped made his work world famous, many of which came not from Wright's hand, but from that of his employee, the richly talented Marion Mahony . . .

Frank Lloyd Wright's Right-Hand Woman

Also last year, the indispensable Tim Samuelson, who currently has another great show, Modernism's Messengers: The Art of Alfonso and Margaret Iannelli, up at the Cultural Center, curated an overview of Frank Lloyd Wright's early work, centered on the time he spent as an employee of Dankmar Adler and Louis Sulivan.

Wright's Roots
Wrights Roots: Garrick Theater colors seen for first time in over a century
In May, a joint campaign was announced in which the Alphawood Foundation would contribute up to $10 million in matching funds towards the restoration of Wright's 1908 Unity Temple in Oak Park,, which, if successful, could also see ownership transferred from the Unitarian Universalist
congregation which originally commissioned the building to ownership by a new, endowed foundation.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Unity Temple among National Trust's 11 Most Endangered 

See Frank Lloyd Wright's Boiler!

Back in 2006, actor Peter Weller brought his own stamp to Wright in his portrayal in Richard Nelson's play at the Goodman Theatre, an interesting effort to capture Wright at his point of exile, the long, lean years between his early triumphs as his re-emergence as an architectural powerhouse in the 1930's.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Pacific Overture
Robocop channels Frank Lloyd Wright

The play also featured Harris Yulin as an alcoholic and exhausted Louis Sullivan, but when, during the play's run, a major American magazine created a list of 100 Influential Americans, Sullivan had a bit of revenge, coming in at position 59 to Wright's 76.

Koolhaas, Wright, Sullivan score in Overnights

Wright continues to be influential, as can be seen in Hyde Park, where Wright's Robie House . . .
. . . is both subtly mirrored and re imagined in Rafael Viñoly's Graduate School of Business for the U of C.
Rafael Viñoly talks Wright, new hospital, at the Logan Center for the Arts

And for dessert, a small Wrightian miscellany . . .

Frank Lloyd Wright archives won't be bleeding Art Institute Red

Frank Lloyd Wright Hits the Wall

Wright's dog house
 Let's Get Small - Frank Lloyd Wright's American System-Built Homes in Beverly
Psssst, hey - buddy!  Wanna buy the Larkin Building?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Marion Mahony drawing is actually a building not designed by Wright but by Walter Burley Griffin. A much under appreciated colleague of Wright.