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"The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:57 am
by therman7g
Wright's dark side

Frank Lloyd Wright's wife manipulated the * lives of unwitting young proteges of the great architect of the Guggenheim Museum, forcing * and * students to have dalliances with each other and making them do manual labor on her husband's live-in utopian compound.

That's one of the many torrid revelations in "The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship," an upcoming tell-all from Regan Books, the New York Post reports. The 704-page tome by Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman is due in bookstores Sept. 1.

Ten years in the making, the book details Mr. Wright's (1867-1959) bipolarity, his veiled anti-Semitism and his love-hate relationship with *. He called them "pansies" and "degenerates" but surrounded himself with them in the 1930s at his reclusive Arizona colony, Taliesin, where studly apprentices roamed the grounds in bathing attire and harem costumes. The book also describes scenes there of nervous breakdowns, drug usage, shady business dealings and interactions with flaky mystics. It also tragically chronicles how Mr. Wright's drug-addicted daughter, Iovanna, tried to kill his wife twice -- once with a meat cleaver -- and ended up in a mental asylum.

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 12:12 pm
by Roderick Grant
This is the book I have been waiting for. It was supposed to come out in March of '05, then last September, then this March, and now September! I hope it's worth the wait. Friedland and Zellman interviewed a lot of people for this tome, including a number of surviving former apprentices with an ax to grind. I hope however controversial it is, that it is also verifiably true and not just salacious for the sake of selling books. The portions on Olga's origins should be especially interesting.

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 2:05 pm
by JimM
Roderick Grant wrote:This is the book I have been waiting for.

Yes! If properly documented, it has been long overdue (could only be rivaled by the Taliesin HSR!).

Enough is known to assume there is considerably more. Not much about Frank would really surprise me, at least he was arguably the greatest architect in history independent of his failings as a person. can only look more pathetic.

the fellowship

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 4:32 pm
by davidk
I saw this article on the internet a couple of days ago. I started to post it but said no. I to hope it is verifiable and not just sensationalism. I checked with Amazon and it will be released in Sept.

Posted: Thu Apr 06, 2006 9:30 pm
by pharding
One thing is for sure about books like this. They are never written when the subject can defend himself or herself. This is one FLW book that I will never purchase.

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 7:37 am
by EJ
To a certain extent I agree with Paul, but then again it doesn't mean that the things in the book aren't true. The myth of Olgivanna has been begging to be debunked for years now, and frankly, I can't wait to read this book. I'll look at the endnotes, check out the sources and make my decision from there.

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 8:59 am
by Roderick Grant
This isn't "Mommie, Dearest." However, anything published while Olga was alive would have to have been fawning, or she would have sued. She was famously litigious. (Notice Gill waited until she was safely dead before publishing "Many Masks.") From what I have been able to determine, talking to John Geiger and James DeLong, both of whom were interviewed at length for the book, is that all the writers had to do was record the truth, which is bizarre enough. Anytime one gets near Gurdjieff and his crew, embellishment becomes unnecessary. Olga rewrote history to suit herself, from her origins to her death. To debunk her account of things will only help the legend of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Wright an anti-semite? That's a laugh

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 9:36 am
by rightwaswright
It would be interesting to hear what Edgar Tafel thinks about that.

Or Aaron Green (if he were alive).

Or Edgar Kaufmann (if he were alive).

FLlW was not an anti-semite. An egomaniac, certainly. But not an anti-semite.

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:26 am
by DamiensGreve
I think it's important that those who were here when FLW was alive have been able to tell their stories before they are all gone. It doesn't change the architecture but it does begin to dismantle the myth, and that's a freeing thing.

As for "making [the apprentices] do manual labor on her husband's live-in utopian compound," well, we all knew that.

another book

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 11:10 am
by KevinW
This book does not matter. Here's what I know, having worked with 2 former apprentices, who worked very closly with Wright, during the 1940's and 50's, and knowing at least 20 former Wright apprentices.

Those gifted apprentices who understood Wright's vision would go off on their own, graciously, I might add, and concentrate on the Architecture.

These individuals who truely wanted to concentrate on Architecture while at the Taliesins were in fact able to do this. Case in point, the many years Bob Beharka was at Taliesin, including the Olga 1960's years, he never once ever performed a movement, dance, ditty, etc....When I asked how he did this.....He simply said, I just made myself busy in the drafting room with the seniors. he was able to avoid the Olga things that detracted from Architecture. His talents were recognized early by Wright, and spend a lot of time supervising building construction. He made the Taliesin experience work for him. Even with his last bout with Olga, even does not hold a grudge. He said he was never interviewed for this "tell all" book.

I have to concentrate on my own architecture now, I will add more tonite.

Those who lacked talent and understanding, tend to hold a long grudge, pointing blame elsewhere for their own shortcomings. We hear the stories, but lets review what they have accomplished in Architecture. Very little indeed.

As far as Besinger, his beef was with Olgavanna, and if he was unable to continue at Taliesin on his own terms, then of course he should go.

I really dont care so much about the Olgavanna stories. If an apprentice or anyone else followed her visions then they deserve what ever it is they received in the end. While I respect the work of Besinger, I feel he must have had some issues on a personal level that disabled his potential. Besingers' primary issues were with Olgavanna's side of things, and not the Wright side of things. His efforts with Johnnie Hill and Elizabeth Gordon at House Beautiful were part of Wrights bigger vision to spread the word.

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.

Re: Wright an anti-semite? That's a laugh

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 4:10 pm
by JimM
rightwaswright wrote:It would be interesting to hear what Edgar Tafel thinks about that.

Read "About Wright"; Tafel is more than respectful, but chronicles Olga's negative impact on the Fellowship starting immediately after Franks death.

Read "Working with Mr. Wright"; Bessinger (one of the most competent apprentices) can barely contain his contempt for Olga and Iovanna.

Read "Picturing Wright"; Guerrero has little good to say about his experience with Olga.

and on and on....

I didn't know her, so obviously have no place or reason to speak with authority, but there is plenty in the public record that places her and Iovanna directly to blame for just about all the eventual ills of the Fellowship, especially the emasculation and cult-like devotion demanded of any talent that remained and allowed themselves to be abused for so long.

It is not voyeurism, but of interest only with regards to Wrights legacy that suffered after his death. I can't wait for this book.

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 4:18 pm
by JimM
My post did not really address the anti-semite thing, but regardless it is no secret that many people had "ambivalence" about Jews throughout our history. Wright was an equal opportunity critic of just about everyone regardless of race or creed.

The references to Olga's influence remain...

Re: another book

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 4:30 pm
by JimM
myLiebermeisterAGG wrote:
Those who lacked talent and understanding, tend to hold a long grudge, pointing blame elsewhere for their own shortcomings. We hear the stories, but lets what you accomplished. Nothing.

Rather a broad stroke, there, don't you think?

Olga was savvy enough to know that although mysticism and movements were her priority and there were enough willing to "dance and ditty", work also had to get done in the drafting room. Bob Beharka's experience is not really surprising, since it's also hard to picture Wes doin' that movement thang!

Sorry, don't quite connect what "but lets what you accomplished. Nothing." means.

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 5:17 pm
by Richard
Ok Jim, I'll bite. What do you mean by "ambivalence" about Jews? Were you just attempting to be euphemistic or what? Was this wink wink or were you clearing your throat. Let's be clear.

Posted: Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:54 pm
by EJ
This is slightly off the point, but I just re-read one of my old issues the FLW Quarterly which chronicles the "private side" of Taliesin West. Long story short, there are several photgraphs of inside the apprentice's apartments. In at least two, there are rather big, dominating paintings of Olgivanna that feature prominently in their rooms. It fits into the "she was the guru of the cult" criticisms of her and the acolytes in the Fellowship.

Now, a question for those of you in the know: How many current Fellowship members are there? How old are they on average? Any young members? How many of them have anything to do with architecture? What do the non-architecture fellows do with their time? It would seem to me that they would be pretty useless.