"The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright

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KevinW
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Fellows

Post by KevinW »

EJ



The last two issues of the Taliesin Fellows newsletter lists "all" those who "apprenticed" at the Taliesins from 1932 to present. The list is as complete as that has been attempted before, but obviously will change frequently, as info presents itself. The list includes name, and year(s) in the fellowship.

You ask the average age, well, that would be difficult. Those living who actually apprenticed until 1959, well, those numbers are dwindling every year. In Northern California, there are numerous, and many still practicing Architecture, ages range from mid 80's to perhaps mid 70's.

Remember that not all who joined the fellowship were interested in becoming Architects. While Architecture was the main interest, it was a center for those interested in the "allied arts". Many former apprentices are in fact not Architects, some I know here are successful printers, teachers, artists, sculpters, consultants, etc....

None of these fascinating people I have had the good fortune to know could ever be considered "useless".

Each year we lose someone who has priceless information about their time with Wright. The stories these people have to tell are not as * as the stories we get from the axe grinders.
KevinW

JimM
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Post by JimM »

Hi Richard....let's not go there. I wasn't going to respond, but the button was pushed and I do understand how my use of the word "ambivalent" (adj:having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone) might be construed as negative (racist?), though that connotation was not at all intended.



We have always been ambivalent towards minorities and their place in our society, welcoming "huddled masses" yet exhibiting violent hatred at times. Blacks, Chinese, Jews, Irish (and my Scot great grandfather) have all at one time or another been treated as outcasts or subject to blatant racism. We've been very democratic, discriminating against them all.



To keep this relevant to the board, Frank had more of a benign ignorance rather than a hateful soul, and I think it's a stretch to say he was what would today be considered racist. There are just as many references to his humanity towards those who he would appear to have had prejudices against.

JimM
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Re: another book

Post by JimM »

myLiebermeisterAGG wrote: My main point being, those who approached the Wrights on their own terms gained much more from the Taliesin experience than those who were and still are simple followers. Jim, I believed we have discussed this very topic in regard to Aaron Green before.


Yes, but I see this a little different. Approaching the Wrights on ones own terms required a certain personality and character makeup. Those who "didn't work out", at least to me, seemed to have had a much stronger constitution and self esteem that could never flourish in such a restrictive environment. Of course, this was not always the case.



No argument on the subjective issue of accomplishment, but as you know, I fail to see the "accomplishments" of many who remained. I'm sure in their minds and hearts they benefited greatly; who could not benefit from Frank's genius? Those who left also did so on their own terms independent of later success or "failure". Imagine the strength it must have taken to "leave the fold". So who gained more than who? Once Frank died it was moot anyway. Lacking a purpose, the Fellowship willingly morphed into a complete culture of Olga.



We have to remember that Frank was always the draw, before, during and after Olga. It was natural that as Frank deteriorated, Olga's messianic personality would relentlessly fill the void. In my opinion, she ultimately did more harm than good-and I maintain that Frank was well aware of it towards the end.



BTW, myLieb, I finally took the time to enjoy your photos on the other site. Was that woman in the small picture across the board from Frank you? If not, I beg your pardon "Mr." myLiebermeisterAGG!

Richard
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Post by Richard »

Jim,



Thanks for clearing that up.



Richard
Homeowner

PNB
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Post by PNB »

For those who can't wait for the book to come out you can bid on one on eba. The item # is 4631269655. At its current price I think I can wait until it comes out this summer though.

jrdet10
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Location: Detroit MI USA

OHlgivanna! Oh don't you cry for me! ...

Post by jrdet10 »

If I had read the Gill biography before the Secrest biography, I would probably have abandoned interest in FLW. The question I asked after reading Gill, and the question I would expect to ask after reading the new book, is "So -freakin'- what?"

That is to say, can anybody say whether or how Olgivanna influenced the most important aspect of FLW's legacy -- the architecture?

Not being as steeped in Wrightiana as most of the other posters, I can only draw on one relevant story: the Burns series' account of how FLW didn't want to build Johnson Administration in the dodgy industrial area of Racine, but Olgivanna (apparently sick of being house-poor) said something like, "Build what they want, Frank, or you'll lose the job."

If true, then maybe Olgivanna deserves credit for at least one thing. Now, if this book can show how she ruined or quashed other projects, it might be worth reading.
"Well, there you are!"

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I once asked Anne Baxter something about her grandfather's adolescent years that she thought was not appropriate, and she went on about how his early life had nothing to do with his architecture. But, I pointed out, if he had been born Frank Lloyd Vanderbilt, the history of architecture would be completely different. No one, even the Sainted Frank Lloyd Wright, is immune to the social environment in which he lives. So the book will shed light on his life (to the extent that it is accurate). But he is not the primary focus; it's the Fellowship and Olga. Many myths have grown up around FLW since 1959, scandalous or immaterial, which this subjective look at the society of Taliesin might well verify or lay to rest. It will have no effect on the quality of FLW's architecture, but will on the world that he created around him. As it is, among the general public, the most-read book about FLW is "Many Masks," which is truly scandalous. This, with its natural prurient appeal, could reach a wide audience and redress inaccuracies in that book.

KevinW
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Joined: Sun Feb 06, 2005 6:41 pm

"the untold story"

Post by KevinW »

Well, I received my advanced proof copy of this book this weekend. If your goal is to get the inside scoop of Taliesins' who's who of * apprentices, in fighting, who slept with who, who wanted to sleep with Olga,.....then this is your book. While it rehashes what everyone else has already written, it goes for the throat in regard to the * escapades of the fellowship. If you are interested in uncovering more hard hitting new info on Mr. Wrights genius, this is not your book.

Here are a few insights into this gossipy, bitchy, sensationalistic volume. Philip Johnson was in love with the young * Jack Howe. This account can be read in chapter 19, The * Clubs. Mrs. Wright in her blind declining years would enjoy being read to in her room, her favorite being * erotica...and a final little tidbit, Gene masselinks brother Ben fondly remembers all the guys wanted to"f**k Mrs. Wright.

It is clear the what the authors focus is, *, religion, Gurdjieff, Olga and Iovanna, drugs, alcohol, *. Architecture....not so much.
KevinW

PNB
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Post by PNB »

Thanks for the scoop on your early read. Makes me glad I've been outbid on ebay for both advanced reader copies that have recently appeared. Sounds like pure garbage to me.

pharding
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Post by pharding »

More trashing of the reputations of dead people who can no longer defend themselves, just to make a buck. While I believe Olga's professional judgement to be poor at best, her business acumen saved FLW so that he could practice architecture. I respect this part of her persona. I find it absolutely ludicrous that a blind, elderly woman liked to be read * erotica. This speaks volumes about the credibility of the author.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

JimM
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Post by JimM »

pharding wrote: her business acumen saved FLW so that he could practice architecture




Then who was responsible for all of the pre-Fellowship architecture? Does her business savvy account for the condition she left the Fellowship in? Yes, Olga was probably a whip at an opportune time, but Frank never let reality, his finances, or anything else interfere with his drive to create and innovate; regardless of his personal situation. What was his first thought after the human tragedy of the first fire? To rebuild!



Some view some of his architecture and the times of the twenties to early thirties as a listless and lethargic era waiting for "someone" to snap him out of it. In fact, Olga (and Mariam Noel before her) factored into many of the problems in those years. Rather, I feel it was just a natural prediliction to allow himself to "suffer" himself, swelling from a combination of the Taliesin disaster, demands of the Imperial an ocean away, his real "job" at the time as print merchant, then the market crash, etc... life is cyclicle.



Olga helped invigorate him to develop the Fellowship, but it was originally intended as an extension of a collaborative lifestyle he had experienced for years, except he would now be paid for it, undoubtedly a prime element. Even if that was Olga's idea, I fail to see any direct connection to her (or anyone else for that matter) that accounts for his creative art. Olga was not Frank's Rove.



It is pointless to consider "what if's". His architecture, to me, has proven to have always transcended his relationships and there is every reason to believe he would have created brilliant architecture with or without Olga and/or the Fellowship. His work prior to them is evidence enough for me.



As far as that book goes, I'm not going to prejudge the authors until I learn more about them, but have no reason to have a rote negative reaction without reading it. Why are people so quick to suspect the veracity of these stories? We all have skeletons in our closets, but we'll see. If the narrative is accurate, prurient or not, it is a part of the legacy and I look forward to learning more. Perhaps the dead have actually been respected by delaying "sordid" reality.



Frank had to make his peace with Olga due to old age. I hope the book sheds some light on what I have always thought to be his understandable dissatisfaction with what was becoming "Olga's Fellowship long before his demise.

EJ
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Post by EJ »

I'm sure Mrs. Howe would be surprised that her husband was gay.



I was looking forward to this book, but if this is the kind of inaccurate info in there, I have my doubts right off the bat. Perhaps the book was misquted by the person who wrote the post.



As for Mr Harding's comments re: Olga: Olga was very unconventional, and it wouldn't surprise me at all if she wanted to read * erotica. Also, when you see or read many of the interviews of the apprentices, a lot of them remarked how beautiful Olga was in her time, and this would fall into the proper timeline in the creation of the Fellowship. All the guys lusting after her wouldn't surprise me.



The boys of the Fellowship were exhibiting behavior not all that different from today's college boys. I know, I used to be one.
"It all goes to show the danger of entrusting anything spiritual to the clergy" - FLLW, on the Chicago Theological Seminary's plans to tear down the Robie House in 1957

KevinW
Posts: 1287
Joined: Sun Feb 06, 2005 6:41 pm

the book

Post by KevinW »

This book, i will admit, fills in at least so far, 200 pages into it, some missing pieces in regard to Olga. It does appear pretty well researched, and when the author was unable to find evidence of something, they admit it. All that was ever imagined about Olga, if accurate, will probably surprise no one. It was a bit of a surprise to me though, that the Gurdjieffians, had their eyes on Taliesin before Olga and Frank even met. The book suggests that perhaps Olga was the tool to get them inside, when Frank was threatening to leave Wisconsin. The chance meeting of Olga and Frank in the high priced box seat at the theater seems to have all been orchestrated by the Gurdjieffians. It would appear that they started in on getting Wright involved in the idea, very early.

I just really dont see the point, even if accurate, of "outting" Jack and some others in this way.
KevinW

Mobius
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Post by Mobius »

Some of you may be familiar with my second cousin Bruce Chatwin, who died of AIDS some years ago. He was a prize winning travel writer whose works included



* In Patagonia 1977

* The Viceroy of Ouidah 1980

* On The Black Hill 1982

* The Songlines 1987

* Utz 1988

* What Am I Doing Here? 1989

* Photographs and Notebooks 1993

* Anatomy of Restlessness 1997

* Winding Paths 1998



Initially his illness and death were attributed to Denghy Fever, but the family knew the "awful truth"; he had * with too many * men, and had contracted HIV, leading to full blown AIDS some years later.



His was a somewhat scandalous life, but the details were hidden from public view until well after his death. The family (not my side by the way, we'd rather the truth came out) fought tooth and nail to prevent an unauthorized biography from being released, and even went so far as to commission the "authorized" version to try and defuse the unofficial one somewhat.



The simple fact of the matter is that the unofficial book is 99% correct in everything it says about Bruce: all his personal failings, illegal smuggling activities while he worked for Sothebys, his flagrant *, his many affairs, his eccentric behaviour, and his questionable morals.



I say this because, it is quite likely that the contents of this new book are the truth - or at least, a version of the truth which details previously unknown facts. Whether the truth is dealt his honestly, or some mischevious treatment of the truth is the question. Factual errors are usually exposed rapidly, by supporters, so it would seem unlikely that the facts will be wrong. The interpretation of the facts is what counts, and how gently people deal with the data.



Do not dismiss information just because it upsets you to hear it, or because it runs against your beliefs about FLW.
How many escape pods are there? "NONE, SIR!" You counted them? "TWICE, SIR!"

*Plotting to take over the world since 1965

JimM
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Location: Austin,Texas

Re: the book

Post by JimM »

myLiebermeisterAGG wrote:The chance meeting of Olga and Frank in the high priced box seat at the theater seems to have all been orchestrated by the Gurdjieffians.


Now that is interesting. Not a cosmic collision, fate or inevitability? Talk about kidding the kidder!

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