Frank knew best

Martin Pawley

  • Frank Lloyd Wright. The Lost Years, 1910-1922: A Study of Influences by Anthony Alofsin
    Chicago, 456 pp, £43.95, March 1994, ISBN 0 226 01366 9

It may not be remembered in the current mammoth Frank Lloyd Wright retrospective at the New York Museum of Modern Art, but in May 1939, just after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, Frank Lloyd Wright paid a significant visit to England. His purpose was to deliver four lectures to the RIBA; lectures that he supplemented by showing 16 mm colour films of life at Taliesin West, the Arizona winter home of his peripatetic architectural family. Wright had been invited to speak as a ‘Modernist’ in much the same way as a speaker today might be invited to lecture as an ‘Environmentalist’ – and as far as can he discerned from the transcripts of his lectures, he accepted the role. This is remarkable, because from 1908 onwards he called his own architecture ‘Organic Architecture’, and from the early Thirties, drew clear distinctions between it and what he came to dismiss as ‘European Bauhaus Modernism’.

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