Sign up

Frank Lloyd Wright

United States 
1867−1959
Subscribe0
Frank Lloyd Wright (Eng. Frank Lloyd Wright; June 8, 1867, Richland Center, Wisconsin, USA - April 9, 1959, Phoenix, Arizona) - architect and writer, father of the "prairie style" and "organic architecture"; considered the most influential and most creative master of American architecture.

Features of the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. He designed about 1000 buildings, more than a third of which were built, and some are still preserved. In 2019, eight of them - including the Fallingwater House, the Guggenheim Museum in New York, and the Temple of Unity - were listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Throughout his career, Wright used decorative details, natural colors and rich textural effects. By carefully and sensitively selecting materials, he took control and improved the dynamics of space, which ushered in a new era in American architecture. Wright became famous as the creator and founder of "organic architecture", that is, buildings that are in harmony with both their inhabitants and the environment. His greatest achievements can be considered courage, fruitfulness and possession of space.

Famous buildings of Frank Lloyd Wright. Guggenheim Museum in New York, House over the Waterfall in Pennsylvania, Illinois Unity Temple, Tokyo Imperial Hotel, Taliesin Residences in Wisconsin and Arizona, SC Johnson Wax Headquarters in Wisconsin, Maryland County Administrative Center California.

early years

Frank Wright was born June 8, 1867 at the Richland Center, Wisconsin. His mother, Anna Lloyd Jones, was a teacher from a large family of Welsh descent who settled in Spring Green, where Wright later built his famous Taliesin residence. The father of the future architect was William Carey Wright, a preacher and musician.

In the early years, the Wright family often moved from state to state and settled in Wisconsin when Frank was 12 years old. He spent the summer with his mother's relatives in Spring Green and fell in love with local landscapes. “The texture of the hills, bedspreads and fabrics that encircle them, the look of it all in the delicate green color, or covered with snow, or under the bright radiance of summer, which burns in the glorious flame of autumn ... I still feel as much of them as trees, birds , bees and red sheds "- the master recalled. As an adult, he took the middle name Lloyd to show respect for his mother's family.

In 1885, when Wright graduated from high school, his parents divorced, and no one else heard of his father. In the same year, the young man entered the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied civil engineering for several semesters. To pay tuition and help the family, he worked for the Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and was an assistant to the famous architect Joseph Silsby. It was this magnificent draftsman who fell in love with Wright in plastic lines and expressive accents. Convinced of his desire to become an architect, the young man left the university in 1887 and left for Chicago.

Prairie Style

A year later, Wright joined the Chicago-based architecture firm Adler and Sullivan under the direct supervision of Louis Sullivan, the great American architect, better known as the “father of skyscrapers.” Sullivan, who rejected the richly decorated European styles in favor of a cleaner aesthetics and adhered to the maxim “shape defines function”, had a profound influence on Wright, who ultimately fulfilled the mentor's dream of a unique American style of architecture. The collaboration continued until 1893, when Wright was forced to leave the company after taking two orders “on the side” in violation of the contract.

By then, Frank Wright had been married to Catherine Tobin for four years (in the end, the couple had six children). Their home in a suburb of Chicago, now known as Frank Lloyd Wright’s house and studio, is considered his first masterpiece. There, the architect founded his own company, having received an order for the Winslow House project in River Forest. This house with horizontal contours and spacious open interiors was the first example of Wright’s revolutionary style, later called “organic architecture”.

Over the next few years, the architect designed a number of residential buildings and public buildings that became leading examples of the “prairie style” (including Roby House in Chicago and the Unity Temple in Oak Park). These were one-story buildings with low pitched roofs far beyond the walls and long rows of casement windows. During the construction, only local materials and unpainted wood were used, which emphasized its natural beauty.

Other young architects followed the same path, and by 1900, 33-year-old self-taught Frank Lloyd Wright had become the main practitioner of the Prairie School. This style is widely spread due to the organic placement of buildings in the landscape, open plan, thoughtful division of spacious living areas, plenty of light and heating around the perimeter. From 1900 to 1910, Wright built about fifty houses in the "prairie style." In his typical residence of that period, a wide roof hung over a continuous ribbon of windows, defying the usual box-like structure of most houses, and the main rooms of the house flowed from one to another in a continuous space.

Taliesin and his community

In 1909, after 20 years of marriage, Frank Lloyd Wright suddenly left his wife, children, and practice and moved to Germany with a woman named Mama Bortwick Cheney, the wife of his client. There he released a large double portfolio of his drawings and a smaller but richly illustrated photograph collection of notes on his buildings.

Returning to the United States in 1913, the couple settled in the Taliesin residence, which the architect built on the ground of his ancestors on the maternal side - in Spring Green. A year later, there was a tragedy: a distraught servant killed Cheney, her two children and several others, and also burned the house down.

Although Wright was devastated by the loss, he immediately began to restore Taliesin so that, as he put it, “wipe the scar off the hill” (the name of the house translates from Welsh as “shining forehead” - it is located on the “forehead” of the hill). Soon, the sculptor Miriam Noel joined him, who became his mistress. In 1916, they went to Japan, which became their home for five years. In Tokyo, the architect erected the Imperial Hotel (dismantled in 1967) - one of his most significant creations. Thanks to its revolutionary floating structure, it has become one of the few large buildings that withstood the devastating earthquake in 1923.

After returning to the States, Wright married Miriam Noel, and they were together for another four years, until they divorced in 1927. Two years before, another fire destroyed Taliesin, which was again rebuilt. In 1928, the architect married for the third time - to Olga Ivanovna (Olga) Ginsenberg.

With the onset of the Great Depression of the 1930s, orders ceased, and Wright devoted himself to writing and teaching. He published "Autobiography" and "Disappearing City", which became manuals on architecture, and also founded the Taliesin Community architectural school in his house and studio. In 1937, the master and his students began working on Taliesin West, a residence in Arizona, where the school moved for the winter.

The House Over the Waterfall and the Guggenheim Museum

Shortly before its 70th birthday, when the US economy began to rise, Wright suddenly returned to the profession. His new creation was a surprisingly original and amazingly beautiful suburban “House over the Waterfall” in the Allegheny Mountains for the famous Pittsburgh Kaufman family. This building - one of Wright's most famous works - has been admired from 1936 to the present day. It was later transferred to the state and open to visitors, becoming a popular attraction.

In the late 1930s, Wright developed house designs for the middle class, dubbed the "Uson" (from the abbreviation USONA - Unites States of Nothern America). In these dwellings, revolutionary developments were used, such as a heated foundation, free cooling and carports.

In 1943, Wright began a project that he spent the last 16 years of his life on - the Guggenheim Museum of Modern Art in New York. This is a huge white cylindrical building, covered with a plexiglass dome. There are no separate halls in the museum; it consists of one spiral ramp that embodies the architect's dream of continuous space. The construction of the museum began in 1956, and it opened in 1959, six months after the death of its creator. And if then the building was controversial, now it is considered one of the most beautiful in New York.

Death and Heritage

Frank Lloyd Wright passed away on April 9, 1959, at the age of 91. But even after that, the construction of its developments continued. In 1992, Wisconsin finally approved financing for a building on Lake Monon in Madison. The Monona Terrace Community and Conference Center was completed in 1997 - almost 60 years after Wright presented his projects.

His books include Autobiography (published in 1932, revised in 1943), Organic Architecture (1939), American Architecture (1955) and Testament (1957).

Author: Vlad Maslov
All exhibitions of the artist
Whole feed
View 10 artworks by the artist