Wright, to me, falls squarely into the kind of "starchitect" criticism Brand was leveling.
And up until the event that transpired, they were considered to be mild mannered servants. But while Frank Lloyd Wright was in Chicago, Mamah fired Julian and Gertrude because of strange behavior on Julian's part, and the servant snapped... He died a few weeks later in jail...
Yesyesyes, he was a giant and a mega-talent, and his buildings are often beautiful. (I'm not blind.) But while they're beautiful as structures, they're often absurd as buildings...
Simple question: Would you want to live in one of his houses? I wouldn't, for two main reasons. Most important is the way a Frank Lloyd Wright house never becomes your home; instead, you move in and become the curator of one branch of the Frank Lloyd Wright museum. You're just the custodian in a monument to his genius. For the other, I wouldn't want to be in charge of (let alone pay for) the upkeep. Wright couldn't resist trying out innovative building techniques -- which has meant in practice that many of his houses are in semi-constant need of expensive repair.
As for the art and moral values his work is celebrated for -- openness, naturalness, a casual, flowing informality -- well, let's see. His ceilings are often very low -- uncomfortably low. Why? Because he was a vindictive short man who was resentful of taller people, and he liked ceiling heights that make tall people feel uneasy. Flowing and open? Sure: his use of space is often fascinating in an aesthetic sense. But in a human sense, it works only if you subscribe to the whole package -- if you don't mess with how and where he wants the furniture placed and the light to fall. It all works together or it doesn't work at all -- which is impressive but a pain. (There's nothing quite like being locked into someone else's concept, particularly when what you want to do is kick back in the comfort of your own home.) As far as I can tell, and from what the owners of one house told me, his buildings are about as unadaptable as buildings can be. And those long horizontal lines which we're told are such eloquent reflections of the American landscape and psyche? Well, they collect water and leak, and the water drips down into the walls, and ....
The buildings work as they're supposed to only if you first submit to FLW -- and submit totally. Give over to his genius, and then you'll have earned the right to experience the full, transcendent FLW experience. What if, on the other hand, you prefer to live by your own rules and you expect your house to play along? You may find yourself wrestling with a nightmare as well as courting bankruptcy.
Both existed in one person, but the tendency to want to pop the balloon detracts from what is a truly astounding vision, even if parts of it were better off adapted and technically executed by others.
« Older Combining the only two things that women in commer... | The Beat Hotel... Newer »
This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments
Buy a Shirt