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Just found out she grew up in Bernard Maybeck's Schneider House in Berkeley.
Her family were the second owners and lived in it for 54 years.
In 2008 LeGuin published a 15 page essay about this house called: "Living in a Work of Art".
I'm tempted to transcibe the entire essay here.
But for now just this bit will do, what think you:
"Maybeck evidently would not have thought himself justified in seeing his relationship to individual inhabitants as subordinate to a theory he wished to illustrate or a "statement" he wished to make.
I have been in Frank Lloyd Wright houses which clearly exhibit Wright's idea of architecture as self-expression;
their inhabitants have no part in them but to accept and obey the whims and mandates of the Master.
Maybeck's approach was quite different.
Though he was as interested as Wright in the aesthetic value of the work,
to him aesthetic meaning was not a final declaration made by the architect,
but the result of an ongoing dialogue between builders and dwellers.
In it's inhabitation a house's beauty would be active and fulfilled"
Of course this excerpt covers old ground - yet well worded and nuanced.
Is it correct of her to imply that Wright understood architecture as "self-expression"?
Something tells me that's not exactly what he thought he was doing.
as a technician or a servant to his clients ?
I have come across no other architect who stressed his role as that of Artist so frequently as did Mr Wright. He explicitly referred to himself as "poet-
But your point is that, according to LeGuin---and many another observer of Wright---he was more interested in the integrity of his creation than in the
comfort and convenience of its occupants. Despite numerous examples, some of them exaggerated or even fabricated, of his single-minded intent
upon an effect, I believe he thought that he was enhancing the lives of his clients---and I think there is ample evidence of that as well.
Could Ms LeGuin have fallen victim to a popular trope ? We have to credit her with first-hand experience of Maybeck; did she spend time in a Wright
house as well ?
On the other hand, even though Edgar Kaufmann wanted his house downstream with a view of the waterfall, FLW insisted on putting it ... well, you know ... much to Kaufmann's ultimate delight. In that instance, FLW knew better than his client. Downstream would have resulted in a constant mist of falling water drifting onto the windows facing the falls, and, on fulsome seasons, the roar of the falls disquieting luncheon on the terrace, where the diners would be splattered with water, as well.
I don't buy the idea that Maybeck would have been willing to roll over for his clients. His work is very diverse, but each house is as consistent in its nature as were Frank Lloyd Wright's.
I'm a fan of Ursula LeGuin, but seeing her repeat the common Wright critique of 'people must obey the mandate of the Master' is disappointing. I have little appetite for artists who dismiss other artist's works (Wright included).
"Literary criticism sets itself the task of upholding the rhetorical prohibitions. It crystallizes the functions of supervision. The written word, duly taken to task by the critics, is thus submitted to a kind of perpetual censorship, a special censorship, a censorship somehow attached to the pen, a kind of insidious Reign of Terror that clots every apprentice writer's ink. It disturbs the very principle of the literary life. It places censorship, a censorship from the outside, on the same level as the writer's expression of his inner self. Far from assisting the incredible endeavor of verbal creation, it hampers it. Undoubtedly, every such critic is constantly subtracting something from verbal imagination."
Nothing whimsical in Mr WrightÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s work ? What do you make of Usonian perfsÃ¢â‚¬â€�their presence or their patterns ?
When Brendan Gill was crowned architecture critic of the New Yorker, Edgar Kaufmann, Jr. wrote to the editor: "You have just hired the Louella O. Parsons of architecture criticism."
Take a photo of the fireplace corner of Goetsch-Winkler and photo-shop the blank clerestories with some sort of logical perf, then judge to see if they improve the look of the house or not. Or look at before perfs and after perfs at Brandes.
Curious thing about perfs, in my opinion, is Wright's overall restraint with ornament in the Usonian years. I mean, he was quite good at ornament, judging by the Prairie years. I personally love the little splash of gruff ornamentation that the plywood perfs supply. (But there I go, just obeying the mandate of the Master again....)
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Emotional in its nature, ornament isÃ¢â‚¬â€œÃ¢â‚¬â€œif well conceivedÃ¢â‚¬â€œÃ¢â‚¬â€œnot only the poetry but is the character of the structure revealed and enhanced.Ã¢â‚¬Â� - FLLW
the structure," we simply have to take his word for it.
At their best, the perfs provide an additional measure of visual privacy, in cases where they are at eye level. They certainly
can add to the "otherness" of the building---for me one of the strongest and most immediate effects of Wright's work on the
observer. At the Berger house they glimmer (or glower) beneath the heavy eaves, daring the visitor to draw near.
The analogy to "eyes" is readily made . . .
This is one reason that I have a hard time taking the perf panels seriously. I believe it would be fair to say that the designs are arbitrary---more so, I believe,
than is most of his ornament. Perhaps this is part of their charm ?
I have detected no connection between the individual perf designs and their respective host structures, beyond the frequent use of Wright's favored 30-60
and occasional 45-degree geometries. Even there, the geometries in the perfs may or may not reflect the geometry found in the relevant house. If any of the
perfs contain an abstraction of the plan (for instance), I think it a fluke---or at best a rarity ?
Indeed, most other decorative motifs used by the architect to adorn (or "characterize") his work do relate to the geometries found in the buildings they dress.
In the case of the perf bands, the operative word is "band," isn't it---the repetition of the pattern is the major contribution to the whole ?
And, we don't have authors for the various perf designs; there is no evidence that Wright designed them as far as I know, nor are we told that the apprentice
who did the drawings was responsible for a perf pattern. Their origins, both as to form and to authorship, are one of the largely unasked questions in Wright
studies, it seems to me. Palli Davis Holubar has done the groundwork, an endless and largely unrewarded task I suspect. More needs to be known . . .?
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Someone may have claimed that the Palmer plan is visible in its cast window block; I don't see it, I'm afraid.
Maybe the block belongs to the McCartney house ?