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 Frank Lloyd Wright  (1869 - 1959)

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About: Frank Lloyd Wright
 

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Lived/Active: Wisconsin/Arizona      Known for: architect, abstract drawing

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Ad Code: 1
Frank Lloyd Wright
from Auction House Records.
Copper Urn
© Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Richland Center, Wisconsin, Frank Lloyd Wright became one of the pre-eminent architects of the early 20th century and designed many structures to express his theory that aesthetics and function should work together. Wright's houses had a unique style of being a horizontal plane with no basements or attics. They were built of natural materials, were never painted, and had low pitched roofs and deep overhangs and walls of windows, all conveying a sense of horizontal and being WITH the landscape. His rooms opened to each other and the homes were centered with large stone or brick fireplaces. Some of Wrights best-known designs include the Robie House in Chicago, Illinois; the Martin House in Buffalo, New York; the Johnson Wax Building in Racine, Wisconsin; and the Guggenheim Museum in New York. He is also credited with the Art-Deco motif of the decorative blocks of the Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix, Arizona.

Originally his name was Frank Lincoln Wright, but he changed his name after his parents divorced. When he was twelve years old, he moved with his family to Madison, Wisconsin where he attended Madison High School. He spent many summers on the farm of an uncle in Spring Green, Wisconsin, and there first thought of becoming an architect. In 1885, he left Madison without finishing high school to work for Allan Conover, the Dean of the University of Wisconsin's Engineering department. While at the University, Wright spent two semesters studying civil engineering before moving to Chicago in 1887.

In Chicago, he worked for an architect named Joseph Lyman Silsbeeand and a year later joined the firm of Adler and Sullivan, directly under Louis Sullivan. Wright adapted Sullivan's maxim "Form Follows Function" to his own revised theory of "Form and Function Are One." Throughout his life, Wright, who did not credit many influencial people on his work, ever mentioned Louis Sullivan as being a major influence.

While working for Sullivan, Wright formed a relationship with Catherine Tobin, and the couple moved to Oak Park, where they built a home and raised their five children. In 1893, Sullivan and Wright ended their business relationship. Wright opened his own firm in Chicago, which he operated there for five years before transferring the practice to his home in Oak Park.

In 1909, after eighteen years in Oak Park, Wright for Germany and lived with a woman named Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Returning to America in 1911, they moved to Spring Green, Wisconsin where his mother had given him a portion of some of the family land, which was the same as the farm land where he had spent time in his youth. On it, he built Taliesin and lived there until 1914 when tragedy struck. An insane servant tragically murdered Cheney and six others, then set fire to Taliesin. Many people thought this horrific event would be the end of Wright's career. He proved them wrong however, with his decision to rebuild Taliesin.

"Over the next 20 years Wright's influence continued to grow in popularity in the United States and Europe. Eventually his innovative building style spread overseas. In 1915, Wright was commissioned to design the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo. It was during this time that Wright began to develop and refine his architectural and sociological philosophies. Because Wright disliked the urban environment, his buildings also developed a style quite different from other architects of the time. He utilized natural materials, skylights and walls of windows to embrace the natural environment. He built skyscrapers that mimicked trees, with a central trunk and many branches projecting outward. He proclaimed that shapes found in the environment should be not only integrated, but should become the basis of American architecture. A great example is the Larkin Company Administration Building in Buffalo, New York (1903), and the Guggenheim Museum in New York City (1943), which resembles the structure of a shell or a snail."

"In 1932, Wright opened Taliesin up as an architectural fellowship where young students could pay to work with and learn from him. Thirty apprentices came to live with him at Taliesin. Through the Taliesin Fellowship, Wright created masterpieces such as Fallingwater (the Kaufmann House) in Mill Run, Pennsylvania, and the SC Johnson and Son Wax Company Administration Center in Racine, Wisconsin. During this time, he married and separated from Miriam Noel and met his third wife, Olivanna Milanoff. The two lived happily at Taliesin for five years and raised a child there. As the couple grew older, the Wisconsin winters became too much for them. In 1937, Wright moved his family and fellowship to Phoenix, Arizona where he built Taliesin West and spent the last twenty years of his life."

"At Taliesin West, because of the comfortable year-round climate, Wright was able to integrate the outdoors with his indoor spaces. He designed high sloping roofs, translucent ceilings, and large, open doors and windows that created a subtle distinction between the home and the environment. Both Taliesin and Taliesin West were continuous living experiences for Wright as they constantly remained under construction. As his fellowship grew and the need for a larger facility became necessary, Wright continued to create additions and expansions on both homes."

"On April 9, 1959 at age ninety-two, Wright died at his home in Phoenix, Arizona. By the time of his death, he had become internationally recognized for his innovative building style and contemporary designs. He had created 1,141 designs, of which 532 were completed. His name had become synonymous with great design, not only because of the form of his designs, but also because of the function. In the end, he showed not just what to live in, but more importantly he influenced the very nature of how we lived."


Source:
Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation c/o CMG Worldwide
http://www.cmgww.com/historic/flw/bio.html

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Frank Wright is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
Art Deco

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