The Wright Stuff:

The Life and Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright,
America’s great 20th Century Architect (1867-1959).

I first heard his name mentioned in a 1970 Simon and Garfunkle song, “So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright”, but it wasn’t until the 21st century that I read about his life and many celebrated works.

There are many overview books of Wright’s work; this is a nice hand-sized one by Abbe Mille Press

But sooner or later, you may want to purchase a coffee-table book such as this one and the one that follows with complete info on all his works.

With Wright, it is essential to remember that he did everything in the houses, too–furniture, decorations, dinnerware, etc.

This is the perfect intro to his life and work.

His grand-daughter, the actress Anne Baxter, narrates this personal documentary with much empathy and insightfulness.

The legendary Ken Burns also made a nice lengthy documentary about him.

left: The ascorbic tv journalist Mike Wallace interviewed Wright in this rare VHS.

right: Wright was recorded on record/later transferred to cassette being interviewed, answering questions, and talking freely. A very interesting, revealing document of his values and beliefs.

If you want to know more about his life, this is a reasonable biography.

In his entertaining autobiography, the unconventional maverick speaks for himself at length.

If you are interesting in visiting Wright sites open to the public, this is the booklet you’ll need. * I will add that now April, 2020, you can go on weekly visits on Thursdays to various sites, indoors and out, at 11 am MDT at #wright virtual visits.

Of course, there are many famous sites to get to know better online including Fallingwater in PA, Taliesin in Wisconsin, the Barnsdale House in California, the Johnson Buildings, Unity Temple, and the original Oak Park houses.

Several years ago, I visited Taliesin West in Scottsdale and highly recommend it. The Wrights started coming here in the ’20s to get winter relief from the cold in their main Taliesin residence.

A good video about the site.

There is a tourist shop there with many Wright souvenirs. This is a magazine Taliesin West puts out.

Behind me: on the grounds, looking back and down to Scottsdale. You drive about 15 mins. off a regular city street in town to mount the hills where the site is located.

The general overview tour was neat; you get to see all parts of the complex. If you’re considering the desert tour, the tour guide cautioned that she doesn’t come out here at night because of the slitheries.

On the walk, lots of views and vistas. You get to see the lobby, the architects area, the dining room, the Wrights’ bedrooms and courtyard.

There are sculptures hither and yon outside.

You can also see the dinner theatre (above) and (below) the bigger auditorium finished 2 years before he died.

You don’t have to go far to find Wright’s influence. This luxury hotel was heavily influenced by his style and was built by one of his big fan/draughtsmen.

It was fun to wander the premises; here, the lobby which resembled Wright’s Imperial Hotel lobby in Tokyo, demolished long ago.

top: the entrance to the hotel

below: a Wrightish glass mural on a hotel wall inside a lobby corridor.

Some things I like about Wright and his work

-he saw Beethoven as a great architect and his symphonies as edifices of the soul; he saw music and architecture as related–based on unit system (scale, notes on scale, synthesis, proportion)

-he believed in the grammar of building and created expressive, organic architecture

-he believed art and human nature were always aiming, desiring, searching for uplift

-he placed a premium on aloneness and insisted on the privilege to be uncommon, to be oneself and resist the drift toward equalitarianism; he did not like what he called huddling, pig-piling, and herding

-he built his buildings organically, in the context of Nature; e.g., using colored desert rocks to build Taliesin West

-he equated quality to culture


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