Looking at Art and Racism: Changing people's belief of the world using Art, Series One Day Three.

               Image may contain: plant, tree, sky, bridge, outdoor, nature and water    

: Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water " 1935.

The mission of an architect is to help people understand how to make life more beautiful, the world a better one for living in, and to give (a) reason, rhyme, and meaning to life.”


Day One: Frank Lloyd Wright's "Falling Water."Frank Loyd Wright is often described as the Master

of architecture and in many ways he was. At first glance, you might feel this quote is perfect if

you replaced the word 'architect' with "life" But the fact that he chose the word "architect" rather

than "life," says a lot about Frank Lloyd Wright. He was a man who lived to excess he made a

fortune but was forever in debt because he lived lavishly and had everything he wanted. Wright once

admitted that his poor finances were likely due to his expensive tastes in wardrobe and vehicles, and

the extra luxuries he designed into his house.

He is so like the wealthy in this country today; that flaunt their wealth and then wonder why people

loot when there is civil unrest. I am not condoning looting or violence, just giving it some under-

standing. Then as now, he was oblivious to the divide between rich and poor. Today that divide be-

tween rich and poor becomes wider and wider. The rich, buy million-dollar homes, expensive cars,

and eat at fancy restaurants every night. Can we be surprised that people will use any means they

can to emulate this lifestyle? Add to that the terrible racism we have, where African Americans are

always at the bottom of the pile.


One of the initial drawings of "Falling Water (colored pencils).

Frank Lloyd Wright was born to a Welsh mother and a father who was a Pastor on June 8th,1867, in

Richland Center Wisconsin. His mother came from a Welsh family " Lloyd Jones," That had settled

in Spring Green a rural part of Wisconson. It seems this landscape which he returned to frequently

during his childhood, as his parents moved from place to place, and throughout his life and some

geometric blocks (made of maple) called " Frobel gifts" that he played with for hours as a child, were

to be an influence on his architecture for the rest of his life. Wright's father divorced and abandoned

his family when Wright finished high school, something Wright was to repeat in his life-time. Frank

Lloyd Wright is famous for the "Prairie Style" or flat houses that mimicked the flat prairie landscape

he had grown up with and the "Organic" Style buildings that merge with the landscape. When I

think of "Organic line," something I use frequently in my own work, I think of curvy lines, But I was

born and grew up in the curvacious Devonshire Landscape full of rounded hills. It is interesting to

think about how the landscape of our childhood may influence our art?

For Falling water, Wright is a master of ingenuity. It was built by Wright in 1935 when Wright was

68 years old, for the rich Kaufman family as a weekend home. It is said that Wright visited the

property where the Kaufman's liked to splash in the water and completed the design (which I have

included) that same night. He made countless drawings after this, so it is hard to know which, was

the original. But the fact that all of the drawings are exactly like the house he built, shows clearly

the vision of the man. He designed the interior and all the furniture for the building, which he

frequently did and was meticulous in his attention to detail. I have not been to "Falling Water", but

from the countless videos and books I have read, this building bought together perfectly

three main principles: his concept of organic building, the requirements of his patron, and his

spiritual needs as an artist. It was important to Wright that at all times the person should question

the notion of whether they are inside or outside at "Falling Water." That is why he used locally

quarried rock in both parts of the building. The stacking of each layer of the building echoes the

stacking of rocks in the stream and helps it, to sit comfortably in its environment. The corner

windows on each side of the building, open up so that you are literally both inside and outside of

the building at the same time. The stream intentionally flows through the basement, so that on

colder or wet days the family can still paddle there and nature is inside. It also works perfectly as a

harmonious contrast to Wright's building. It is ironic that this building was built as a luxury for the

rich, But it is now a museum and available for all to see. Seeing this mastery of the arts is definitely

on my bucket list!

Falling Water- Frank Lloyd Wright" Postcard by GraceElizabeth- | Redbubble

Detail of initial pencil drawing of "Falling Water."

Wright was a genius as an architect, But, not in living life! He lived a life of frivolity and luxury.

Those around him suffered from his selfishness. He left his wife and six children, for the wife of

a wealthy client in his neighborhood' Mamah Borthwick Cheney. She was a feminist and

intellectual. Wright was commonly seen riding around with her, without shame, in his car, and

arrogantly said," An artist needs two wives, one to bear his children and one to be his

intellectual equal."He ran away with her to Europe and flaunted her and their affair. When he

came home he built " Taliesin," next to his mother's family's land, close to Spring Green in

Wisconsin. His mother moved close by to him. The recurring theme of Taliesin also came from

his mother's side: Taliesin in Welsh mythology was a poet, magician, and priest. The family

motto, "Y Gwir Yn erbyn y Byd" ("The Truth Against the world), was taken from the Welsh poet

Lolo Morganwg who also had a son named Taliesin.

Wright may have thought he personified these two things when Taliesin was finished and he

and his lover famously met with reporters in silk Kimonos. But it was short-lived, a few years

later on August 15th, 1914, Mamah, her children, and some others were axed to death, and

Taliesin was burned to the ground. The murderer and the one who started the fire was Julian

Carlton, a manservant of Wrights, who was given his notice with his wife, who was a cook and

set to leave that day. it is said he suffered ridicule and racism, prior to the murder. I can not

justify his actions, but one can only imagine the fear he must have felt at him and his wife losing

all their income. The anger at having excess flaunted in his face by Wright on a daily basis it

makes one query whether it was not just madness that resulted in these deaths.

Wright designed some of his best works in the last 25 years of his life, including "Falling Water"

and the Guggenheim Museum. He was a visionary a man who created designs before society

was ready for them. It took twenty years from when he designed the Guggenheim Museum; for

it to be accepted, built, and completed in 1960. Sadly it was finished a year after his death.

Frank Lloyd Wright was married three times, he worked until he died, he had to, support his

lavish lifestyle.

He shows the importance of not just seeing an artist's works, But knowing the man. A man, who,

if dressed differently, would fit right into many rich homes today. I hope this will encourage you

to learn more about him and to consider how Wright was an "Everyman" for rich people today.



Popular posts from this blog

Looking at Art and Racism: Changing people's belief of the world using Art, Series One Day Six

Looking at Art and Racism: Changing people's belief of the world using Art, Series One Day 7

Looking at Art and Racism: Changing people's belief of the world using Art, Series One Day Five.