Thursday, April 9, 2009

People Thought Wright was Wrong at the time of his Death

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the death of America's second greatest architect, his work surpassed only by God's handiwork along the Colorado River.

I know nothing about Frank Lloyd Wright, except that he went to my high school when it was called Madison High, and, like me, stank academically especially in algebra, botany and physics. There is no record that he ever graduated from high school, possibly because the building that housed it looked somewhat like this and he had no hand in its architectural demeanor. In the early 20th century, that building was torn down and replaced by one designed by Cass Gilbert, the architect who designed the Woolworth Building in New York City. That's the one where I roamed the halls and visited the principal's office for six years.

There is a record of me graduating from this high school. But look at what Frank Lloyd Wright did with his life without a high school diploma. Obviously this was a delinquent who didn't care if he was left behind. Is life fair? As fair as the odds in winning the Power Ball. I'll blog about those percentages some other time.

If you want to know more about this iconic Wisconsin native, try the Brenden Gill biography. It's probably one of the best overall view of this genius currently on the market. However, if you are like me and desire the Spark Notes version of FLW's life, Marcus Field of The Independent has done an admirable job -- especially encapsulating the murder, mayhem, adultery, political, and artistic controversy that made up much of Lloyd Wright's 91 years.

Also check out the superb Ken Burns documentary, from which this is a short excerpt:

Now the first time I remember hearing the name Frank Lloyd Wright was in 1956, during What's My Line, a program that introduced me to what it means to watch high society people act with all the panache and charm of Noel Coward-created characters.

Note on this particular episode panelists Peter Lawford and Paul Winchell. I met Winchell a quarter of a century later as the master voice of both Gargamel of the Smurfs and Tigger of Winnie the Pooh.

Shortly after the end of the program, I decided to become a world famous architect. I took out my Lincoln Logs and created my own version of Fallingwater.

Unfortunately, my version ended up looking like this:

At least I didn't flood out my high school. Instead, it was torn down in 1986, about 60 years after the first FLW-designed building in Madison saw the wrecking ball close up and personal.

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