"The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright

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Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

EJ, Lu would indeed be surprised to find out Jack was gay, but no one else who knew him (that I have ever met) would be. There isn't anything wrong with being gay, but there is something wrong with decieving people about it to the point of marrying to avoid exposure. Nor does this take away from the fact that Taliesin income in the post-war years was (accoridng to John Geiger) at least 60% due to Jack's work.



JimM, I agree with you completely! The Fellowship was little more than a rejiggering of the office system that FLW had used since 1893. Olga's role in "saving" Wright is grossly overstated. One source told me that the only reason he stayed with Olga was that he was just too old and tired to go through another divorce. He also raged against turning Taliesin into a center for a Gurdjieffian cult.



For a real eye-opener, read Svetlanna Ailiuleva Peters' account of her brief and expensive encounter with the Taliesin Horde. Since she had a front row seat to the goings on back in the USSR and a personal history with Josef Stalin, her evaluation of the situation and the parallels she draws between Olga and Joe are revealing and unsettling. I would be inclined to believe anything about Olga of a negative nature, and very little that would flatter her. I met her; she was the principal reason I did not go to Taliesin.



Everything comes out eventually, there are no enduring secrets. Even Deep Throat revealed himself. So if this book reveals some of the vast amount of dirty laundry to be found in Taliesin's shadowy corners, that is not a bad thing, salacious or not.

KevinW
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The book

Post by KevinW »

There is of course nothing wrong with being gay, some of my dearest friends are. I am just left wondering the purpose of some of the content, the Springeresque manner the book is being marketed. The author, expresses his gratitude for the efforts and assistance the Taliesin archives people afforded, yet he nearly apologizes to one individual for using her to access the info to work against the fellowship. As of Friday, her advanced copy had yet to reach her mailbox, no doubt slow mail or something.

It is being marketed as a volume that "will forever change how we think of Frank Lloyd Wright and his world". A grand statement, I was'nt aware of a world wide love fest (meaning the all encompassing acceptance of Wright, and his world) that needed to be exposed and brought down. This is the tone that I perhaps wrongly detect. As i explore the authors background, more and more begins to make some sense. All his writings are available on most of the Gurdjieffian websites. His bent seems to be a fascination with *, religion, and politics. Well, there we have the three things, not recommended for idle chat around the water cooler, and a * topic indeed. Of course in the world of academia, it is publish or perish.
KevinW

JimM
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Post by JimM »

Roderick Grant wrote:I met her; she was the principal reason I did not go to Taliesin.



Having been so influenced by Frank, it has always been uncomfortable feeling critical for so long, and not quite "getting" something about Olga. My instincts have been similar to yours (though I never met her). I have tucked away my application for Taliesin from 1974. Reading through it, something didn't jive for me. While contemplating summers in Switzerland, apparent indentured servitude, etc., the light finally came on. At about the same age as the original apprentices, I asked myself: why in the world would I want to jump through the hoops at Taliesin, when the only acceptable reason for being there had already been dead for 15 years? For Olga?



As I learned more over time, Olga appeared to have made Frank's final years less than tolerable, as opposed to the spin of bliss still perpetrated by the surviving sycophants. The newer tidbits coming out continue to confirm what I have always suspected. How sad that Frank often had to flee TW to David's house, needing to escape Olga and her whirling dervishes.



Olga no longer surprises (until I read that book at least!), but what sticks in my craw these days is the state of his "fellowship". Sci-Arc styled elitist pinheads giving knee jerk reverence to Frank while practicing architecture which would have him rolling in his grave....if Olga had allowed him to stay there.

therman7g
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Location: Illinois

The Fellowship

Post by therman7g »

I recieved my book in the mail today. This should be interesting.

DamiensGreve
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So....

Post by DamiensGreve »

I'm almost finished. Has anybody else read it?



The info about Olgivanna in the "Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man" was really interesting. And Wijdeveld's influence on the Fellowship charter was really exciting--very important within the whole canon.



And then there were the letters between Wes and Svet (never guessed--and I never, ever would have guessed that Yen Liang had a problem with the old man); and the details about the upbringing of Iovanna and Svetlanna; and FLW's violence; and the anti-Semitism and homophobia from so many people.... And all the other stuff (although, after all the publicity, the "* Clubs" chapter was almost a letdown).



But, yeah, do you think that the authors (or proofreaders) could have agreed on the ages of Olgivanna and Svetlanna at any point? And what about FLW? They say he's 66 in 1932. And Olgivanna and Svetlanna's ages fluctuate--is Svetlanna 8, 9, 10? In 1927? It's a toss-up!



Is it "Armenian" or "American"?



Is it "Davison" or "Davidson"?



Who knows!

Michael Shuck
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Location: Wichita, KS

The Fellowship

Post by Michael Shuck »

My copy arrived from good ol' Amazon today...just from riffling through it for a few minutes all I can say is my first impression is that it is crap... melodrama.



Keep you posted.

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

I'll reserve my opinion until I finish, but it doesn't look good. For the introduction of Olga, they've relied on her own autobiography, which I'm convinced is about as credible as "Alice In Wonderland." I went to a book signing last weekend, and all the talk was about the *, *, * at Taliesin. Though Friedland claimed to have documented that Frank "Lincoln" Wright source, he did not! In face the "citations" or foot notes, seem a bit thin in general. Nevertheless, it's also clear, even in the beginning, that they have done a lot of research through many sources, so there may be a few diamonds in the copious slag heap.

therman7g
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Location: Illinois

Cult of Genius

Post by therman7g »

Page 262:

Robert Bishop - "We discussed at length his inability to have close friends, and he 'confessed' that his worst weakness, and the most conscience-pricking, was his unconcern for others as people in their own right, to be cherished and remembered, and befriended."



What happened to Mr. Wright to cause such a sad defect?

Roderick Grant
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Post by Roderick Grant »

Anna

EJ
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Post by EJ »

I can't wait for the "Defend Wright At All Costs" people read this book...if indeed they do.



I'm about 3/4 done. Its been interesting. The notes are fairly solid, and frankly, it all makes sense to me some of the craziness that happened in those years, given the personalities involved. Indeed we are still seeing the remnants of the ills of the Fellowship today.



I am even more convinced that there is no purpose to having a Fellowship now, perhaps even since Wright died. The affairs at Taliesin won't ever get to a semblance of order and prosperity until the old guard dies off.



I also found it interesting to learn about the present status of Iovanna. With her parents, I get the impression that she never had a chance in real life. Olgivanna was sure a piece of work!
"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

mike
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Location: st louis

Are there any architects at Taliesin anymore?

Post by mike »

Are there any architects at Taliesin anymore? Any projects designed ,sold or built??

I thought they dismantled the practice a few years ago???

If so the fellowship is not much more than an alumni club. One that will never have any new members.
St Louis

pharding
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Post by pharding »

The book goes to extremes to trash Frank Lloyd Wright as a person. The book also goes to extremes to create a theme of * at every turn in FLW's life with many of those that he encountered. This * theme even extends to the photography. There is a photo of FLW from the backside at the beach. There are photos of apprentices toiling in the hot summer sun in short shorts. There is a photo of Olgivanna captioned as "keeper of the flame". I could go on, but I don't want to waste my time. My copy is on its way back to Amazon.com for a refund.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

EJ
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Post by EJ »

I guess I can understand Paul's point, but if the facts are what they are (and until someone get sued for defamation and the notes in the book line up we can assume the facts are, at the very least, have a ring of truthfulness) then, oh well. We can all agree on the genius of Wright as an architect and designer. There's no disputing that. But, the record reflects as to cult of personality of the Fellowship and a heaping load of bizarre behavior.



There were a large number of historians who discounted and pooh pooh'd the Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemings controversey, saying that such behavior was below Jefferson and a founding father would never do such a thing. And guess what? They were dead wrong, as modern day DNA tests have shown. Its much the same here. There are a ton of negative aspects to FLLW's life, much of it mired in that instituition known as the Fellowship. This book (and to a lesser extent, the Ken Burns film) merely brings these aspects to life.



If * was an undeniable current in the Fellowship, then it is what it is. We cannot deny it. If Olgavanna was an overbearing manipulative dictator, we cannot deny it. If there are some people who would rather not face the truth and need to view Wright "with the bark on", without all of the facts, then they are not being honest with themselves or their subject. I prefer to not stick my head in the sand when examining a subject.
"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

pharding
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Post by pharding »

EJ wrote:I guess I can understand Paul's point, but if the facts are what they are (and until someone get sued for defamation and the notes in the book line up we can assume the facts are, at the very least, have a ring of truthfulness) then, oh well.
A ring of truthfulness does not qualify as being the truth. Twisting of facts to support the perspectives of the authors does not qualify as the truth. The major players in all of this are dead. Dead people do not sue for defamation. Just because something is published that does not hardly merit it as being truthful or factual. I am accepting of the truth in whatever form it takes. What I question is the manipulation of the facts to support the point of view of the authors.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

EJ
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Post by EJ »

I guess I would then need to know what facts you think are manipulated.



And, for that matter, how they are manipulated.



Perhaps I should stop reading about anyone who is dead and concentrate only on those who are alive. Only then I can know what truth is.



Forgive my absence while I throw out my entire library of history books.
"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

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