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Tony Smith-FLW Aprentice & Sculptor
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Wrightgeek



Joined: 07 Jan 2005
Posts: 1548
Location: Westerville, Ohio

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 11:51 am    Post subject: Tony Smith-FLW Aprentice & Sculptor Reply with quote

I saw an article today about Tony Smith, a reasonably well-known sculptor of minimalist art in the mid-20th century.

While I am somwhat familiar with Mr. Smith's work as an artist, I was unaware that he spent time as an apprentice to FLW in the late 1930's. Does anyone here know more about Tony Smith's time at Taliesin? If so, I'd be interesed to learn more.

Here's the link to the story:

http://blueverticalstudio.com/go/?p=

Thanks.
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SpringGreen



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Thu Nov 13, 2008 1:36 pm    Post subject: Tony Smith Reply with quote

What a shocker (I've had an appreciation of his work since college, but it never occurred to me that he had any connection to FLW). I didn't believe it until I looked at the directory of Taliesin Fellowship members collected and annotated in the early '80s (that I've got access to), and his name is in there.

Looks like, from the information i am reading, that he spent 2 years at Georgetown (unknown dates), 4 years ('31-'35) with the Art Students League; '37-'38 at the New Bauhaus (that must be have been his intro to the Midwest), and was in the Fellowship for less than a year: April, 1939-Jan. 1940.

I don't know anything else because I've never gone looking for correspondence related to him since I'd never heard the connection before. I looked at Wikipedia, but that was a repeat of the blueverticalstudio page (or that page is a repeat of parts of the Wiki article).
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"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit." FLLW, "Two Lectures in Architecture: in the Realm of Ideas".
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 2248
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 3:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do not understand the logic of calling someone who was in the FLW program a short period of time a "Taliesin Fellow". When I was in my undergraduate architecture program, those that left without completing the coursework for the five year Bachelor of Architecture Degree were called "Dropouts".
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SpringGreen



Joined: 31 Mar 2006
Posts: 532

PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 1:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know why they call them "fellows" either. But he was in the Fellowship.
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"The building as architecture is born out of the heart of man, permanent consort to the ground, comrade to the trees, true reflection of man in the realm of his own spirit." FLLW, "Two Lectures in Architecture: in the Realm of Ideas".
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MHOLUBAR



Joined: 03 Mar 2006
Posts: 132
Location: Oberlin, Ohio

PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Maybe he had to make a living, many in the fellowship left when they ran out of money. Their fellowship could have been considered an internship, where they had to work for the education they received and pay as well. The place ran as a commune but was already in hot enough water, so that they could not call each other 'comrade', not with McCarthy still in Wisconsin. I like the comments in the article about the architecturally based grid system with his minimal approach to materials.
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 4:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

E. Fay Jones is another "apprentice" who stayed no more than 6 months. But since there was not curriculum in the traditional sense, how would anyone know when he had graduated?
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It has always seemed to me that those who stayed for a relatively short period of time and were anxious to leave and make their mark on the world were the more successful of the "fellows."
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JimM



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 1467

PostPosted: Fri Nov 14, 2008 6:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Ringstrom wrote:
It has always seemed to me that those who stayed for a relatively short period of time and were anxious to leave and make their mark on the world were the more successful of the "fellows."


Couldn't agree with you more. Any true individual could never function for long in what, honestly, was a somewhat oppressive environment-except to hold out as long as possible for the opportunity to experience architectural genius. IMO, some people prefer to be led, and a longer length of time in the Fellowship actually impacted designs negatively compared to those who struck out on their own.

I also think that had Olga not been able to heavily influence Wright at a difficult time for him with her own cult experiences, things may have ended up very differently. Frank surely liked the deity he ended up being treated as, but it did not have to become more so of what Olga wanted.
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DamiensGreve



Joined: 09 Jan 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 12:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It has always seemed to me that those who stayed for a relatively short period of time and were anxious to leave and make their mark on the world were the more successful of the "fellows."


That's the common agreement from the people I've talked to (although Lautner is the exception, what with 6 years in the Fellowship).
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 10:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks DamiensGreve.

I knew there was at least one notable exception to my comment but I couldn't think of it at the time. Now I remember reading that fact at the recent Lautner exhibit and was shocked at the time.

I think we can agree that of all of the apprentices that became "famous" Lautner's work was the least derivative.

Speaking of derivative... I think it could be successfully argued that Wright's Usonian work was derived from Schindler's and Dow's previous work.
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DavidC



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
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Location: Oak Ridge, TN

PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Ringstrom wrote:
I think it could be successfully argued that Wright's Usonian work was derived from Schindler's.....



The more I see and learn (and very much like) about Schindler, the more I am reaching the same conclusion.


David
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TnGuy wrote:

The more I see and learn (and very much like) about Schindler, the more I am reaching the same conclusion. -David


Alden Dow's early work is very Usonian in its principles. These houses were built using his own "unit-block" system. There is a housewalk every year in Midland, MI on the first Saturday of October where several of his houses are open. They change every year. I would highly recommend it.

I was able to get into a Dow Legacy house (not on the tour) that was built just a few years ago, for a friend of the Dow family, that was the most wonderful small Usonian that you ever could have imagined.
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DavidC



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
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Location: Oak Ridge, TN

PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 3:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My wife and I had the pleasure of touring the Dow home/studio a few years back - and thoroughly enjoyed it. Wonderful space in a great setting.


To me, it's more obvious to see Wright taking Usonian cues earlier (1920's) from Schindler. I'll have to learn more about the Wright-looks-to-Dow connection. Is there a "definitive" book on Dow?

Paul Ringstrom wrote:
Alden Dow's early work is very Usonian in its principles. These houses were built using his own "unit-block" system.


Couldn't it be argued, though, that Wright already had a 'unit block' system prior to Dow with the California homes, which he (Wright) referred to as his "first Usonians"?


David
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Paul Ringstrom



Joined: 17 Sep 2005
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 4:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

First of all a "unit-block" system does not make something Usonian.

Second Dow's block was 100% different from either of Wright's textile blocks (of which he had two distinct types: rebar joints and mortar joints).

There are only two readily available books on Dow:

Alden B. Dow: Midwestern Modern by Diane Maddex (2007)

and

Architecture of Alden B. Dow by Sidney K. Robinson (1983)

I have read the Robinson book and would recommend it. Sidney Robinson is currently an instructor at the Taliesin architecture school.
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DavidC



Joined: 02 Sep 2006
Posts: 6999
Location: Oak Ridge, TN

PostPosted: Sat Nov 15, 2008 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What about the block system Wright employed at the Richard Lloyd Jones House (1929)? Are they substantially different from the California textiles? If so, could they then be considered more of a precursor to his (and Dow's) 'unit' usage in Usonians?

(thanks for the Dow book recommendations)


David
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