Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright


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Without formal training in architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright nevertheless established himself as the most influential American architect of the 20th century. At an early stage in his career, he adopted the concept that "form follows function," which led him to design some of the most innovative designs for structures that ranged from modest homes to the Guggenheim Museum in New York City.Wright's parents were William Cary Wright and Anna Lloyd Jones Wright, who traced their ancestry to Wales. His first commissioned work was the Hillside Home School, which was built for Wright’s aunts in 1888 near Spring Green, Wisconsin.After about a year, Wright obtained a better job as a draftsman for Adler and Sullivan, a prominent Chicago architectural firm then at the forefront of architectural design. Wright would later refer to Louis Sullivan as his Lieber Meister, which means "beloved master,” and acknowledge Sullivan alone as an influence on his work.In 1889, Wright married Catherine Lee Clark Tobin — the first of three wives — with whom he had six children. With $5,000 borrowed from Sullivan, he purchased a lot in Oak Park, in an affluent suburb west of downtown Chicago, and built his first home.Wright stayed with Adler and Sullivan until 1893, when his growing number of independent commissions convinced his employers that he was "moonlighting" and terminated him, based on company policy. Wright rebounded by opening his own firm, first operating from the Adler and Sullivan-designed Schiller Building, then the Steinway Building, and finally in 1898, a studio at his home in Oak Park.Forty-nine buildings were constructed from Wright's designs during his first eight years as an independent architect. During that time, he began to develop what is known as the Prairie Style of architecture, named after a house he designed for a Ladies Home Journal article in 1901. His architectural designs are often associated with the Arts and Crafts Movement.Wright did not limit himself to architecture. Regarding architectural interiors, he said that the "reality of a building is not the container but the space within." Such was the impact of Wright's designs that furniture makers even today are producing items based on them.In 1909, Wright left his wife and traveled to Germany with Margaret “Mamah” Cheney, the wife of a neighbor and client. He named the house "Taliesin," which means "shining brow" in Welsh.Wright divided his time between his Chicago office and Taliesin until August 15, 1914, when his chef became deranged, set fire to Taliesin, and murdered Cheney, two of her children, and two other people. He completed the Midway Garden commission in Chicago and launched into the rebuilding of Taliesin.Following the tragedy at Taliesin, Wright received a letter of condolence from a sculptress named Miriam Noel. Free at last after more than a decade of separation, he married mentally disturbed Noel in November 1923, but they separated in March 1924 and divorced in 1928.While still married to Noel, Wright had encountered a young Yugoslav, Olga Milanoff Hinzenberg, who was 33 years his junior, married but separated, and the mother of a young daughter Svetlana. About three years later, the couple was officially married.With the coming of the Great Depression, architectural commissions became scarce. The result was Wright's residential masterpiece, Fallingwater, the house built over a waterfall.In 1929, Wright spent time in Arizona working on projects. Wright and his fellowship were now able to alternate between Arizona and Wisconsin, depending on the season.Age had no evident effect on Wright's productivity. Following World War II, he received commissions for 270 houses, as well as the Guggenheim Museum in New York City and the Marin County Civic Center in San Raphael, California. His body was interred at Taliesin, near Unity Chapel, which is considered to be his first building.Frank Lloyd Wright redefined architecture and hastened the end of the Art Nouveau period. Form and function should be one, joined in a spiritual union.”


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