"The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright

To control SPAM, you must now be a registered user to post to this Message Board.

EFFECTIVE 14 Nov. 2012 PRIVATE MESSAGING HAS BEEN RE-ENABLED. IF YOU RECEIVE A SUSPICIOUS DO NOT CLICK ON ANY LINKS AND PLEASE REPORT TO THE ADMINISTRATOR FOR FURTHER INVESTIGATION.

This is the Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy's Message Board. Wright enthusiasts can post questions and comments, and other people visiting the site can respond.

You agree not to post any abusive, obscene, vulgar, slanderous, hateful, threatening, *-oriented or any other material that may violate any applicable laws. Doing so may lead to you being immediately and permanently banned (and your service provider being informed). The IP address of all posts is recorded to aid in enforcing these conditions. You agree that the webmaster, administrator and moderators of this forum have the right to remove, edit, move or close any topic at any time they see fit.
JimM
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Location: Austin,Texas

Post by JimM »

I've yet to read the book, having just returned from New York and my terminally ill dad (I hope to post a few Martin House photos if they are worth putting up).



The discussion is already, as usual, interesting. Remember that authors and publishers want to sell books. Everyone has an agenda of one sort or another, and the "*" issue should normally be of little interest or importance. But if there is trending apparent intrinsic to the life of the fellowship, then that would be of interest; even if it may not have any direct relevance to Wright's architecture. The title implies the subject matter of the book, and to me, any "slander" would have to be written with obvious malicious intent. I would expect examination of Wright's personality along with those in the Fellowship in such a book. I've said before that Wright's art can (and should) be set apart from criticism of his human frailities.



I was hoping it would not be given a tabloid treatment. So far, I can't really tell, so I'll see for myself. More information on the Fellowship has been needed for a long time, and If there is a balance of interest along with the salacious, then I would see the book as a "success". Especially if I learn anything more about the Fellowship than before reading it.

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10182
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

As Henry Ford famously said, "History is bunkum!" The book seems to consist of three basic ingredients: fact, inference and surmise. So far I have not found any history that is not accurate, but some of that fact has been used to infer things about Frank Lloyd Wright that are baseless, and some coincidental facts have been cobbled together to surmise a possible scenario for which there is no proof. There's not much difference between inference, surmise and falsification. But that is not uncommon in history books. Just read Churchill's comprehensive and self-serving history of WWII. Since Heroditus myth-making has been a large part of history.

DamiensGreve
Posts: 29
Joined: Sun Jan 09, 2005 9:00 am

facts vs. conclusions

Post by DamiensGreve »

So far I have not found any history that is not accurate, but some of that fact has been used to infer things about Frank Lloyd Wright that are baseless, and some coincidental facts have been cobbled together to surmise a possible scenario for which there is no proof.


That's been my problem with some of the conclusions. I think the authors could have made a stronger case had they not taken evidence and stated their conclusions as the only fact (my biggest problem is with the theory that the Gurdjieffians had their sights on Taliesin from the very beginning--every time I tried to check the supporting evidence in the end notes, there was often nothing there).



When they stick to things that are supported (by interviews with other people if nothing else), I think the case is stronger. Case in point: the Gurdjieff stuff beginning in the late 40s. Curtis Besinger first detailed that in Working with Mr. Wright.

therman7g
Posts: 264
Joined: Mon Jan 24, 2005 11:14 am
Location: Illinois

"The Fellowship" Book Review

Post by therman7g »

"At the beginning of our research I had a level of skepticism about Gurdjieff that was limitless," Zellman said. "But by the end I'd come to the conclusion that he's the most reasonable person in the whole book."



L.A. Times:

http://www.calendarlive.com/galleriesan ... e-channels

JimM
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Location: Austin,Texas

Post by JimM »

Still haven't read the book, but I'll never buy the proposition that Gurdjieff had a significant affect on Wright's architecture.

Eric Saed
Posts: 106
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2006 9:52 am
Location: Minne-sO-tah Norwegian living in exile in Lubbock, Texas

Post by Eric Saed »

Like rubbernecking at a car accident, I had to go out and "waste" a few bucks and get this tome.



As John Howe Admirer #1, I have to say that I was very shocked about the revelations about his behavior. But, do I think it is true? Probably. Do I think the authors' tone and intent was meant to titillate? Absolutely. Does it change my opinion of Howe? Nah.



Basically, it just confirms what I always suspected...that the Taliesin experience was just plain weird. I've always known that FLLW was a gifted genius of an architect and a trainwreck of a human being, so, nothing really surprised me there. And, though she may be dead and cannot defend herself nor litigate, I'm tickled to see Olgivanna skewered and shown to be the deluded, manipulative kook I thought she probably was.

JimM
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Location: Austin,Texas

Post by JimM »

Eric Saed wrote:Like rubbernecking at a car accident, I had to go out and "waste" a few bucks and get this tome.



As John Howe Admirer #1, I have to say that I was very shocked about the revelations about his behavior. But, do I think it is true? Probably. Do I think the authors' tone and intent was meant to titillate? Absolutely. Does it change my opinion of Howe? Nah.



Basically, it just confirms what I always suspected...that the Taliesin experience was just plain weird. I've always known that FLLW was a gifted genius of an architect and a trainwreck of a human being, so, nothing really surprised me there. And, though she may be dead and cannot defend herself nor litigate, I'm tickled to see Olgivanna skewered and shown to be the deluded, manipulative kook I thought she probably was.


That about says it for me, too, except things were even wierder than I thought. I didn't personally find the book salacious; but more like a cheap biography than a serious study of the Fellowship. A disappointment.

pharding
Posts: 2253
Joined: Sat Jun 25, 2005 5:19 pm
Location: River Forest, Illinois
Contact:

Post by pharding »

JimM wrote:

That about says it for me, too, except things were even wierder than I thought. I didn't personally find the book salacious; but more like a cheap biography than a serious study of the Fellowship. A disappointment.
I agree. I have no problem with the reality of life. The book underachieved because of its pusuit of sensationalism for sales. There is great story there that could have been told.
Paul Harding FAIA Restoration Architect for FLW's 1901 E. Arthur Davenport House, 1941 Lloyd Lewis House, 1952 Glore House | www.harding.com | LinkedIn

Roderick Grant
Posts: 10182
Joined: Wed Mar 29, 2006 7:48 am

Post by Roderick Grant »

Once Frank Lloyd Wright left the picture, I lost interest entirely and stopped reading. Olga and her crew are of no more interest to me than the Branch Davidians. Frank's failings as a person have been well-documented before; I saw no surprising revelations in the book, but did see a strained effort to shock. Didn't happen.

JimM
Posts: 1544
Joined: Thu Jan 06, 2005 5:44 pm
Location: Austin,Texas

Post by JimM »

Roderick Grant wrote:Once Frank Lloyd Wright left the picture, I lost interest entirely and stopped reading.


That's a fitting metaphor also applicable to Taliesin since Wright died.



The biggest eye openers about the book were, just how maliciously insane Olga was, even more than I expected; and how poorly Wes Peters came off as the ultimate sychophant.



I also do not buy into any influence Gurdjief or Olga had on Wright's architecture (especially their "circles" theory). It is clear that craziness had more of an effect on the aging genius than movements or anything else. It would have been better to learn more, for example, about Howe and his increased responsibility for commissions towards the end-obvious on many projects-rather than simply focusing on his "trial" and Olga inspired experiments with *.



I now believe the Fellowship was not really that important to Wright's work. It was always just a means to an end; and although you can't prove the unknown, I'm sure Wright would have gone on in some other manner with or without Olga and/or the Fellowship.

Yokut

Part time work online

Post by Yokut »

Part time work online, $200/day or more. Read more info at

http://filthyloaded.com/ci?ID=46118

Mark Hertzberg
Posts: 858
Joined: Fri Jan 07, 2005 7:51 am
Contact:

Post by Mark Hertzberg »

I have just posted a review of the book, with some photographs, at www.wrightinracine.com



I enjoy reading the comments here, but I hope you will help us start a robust discussion in the comments section of my article on the wrightinracine site, as well. I look forward to reading your comments.



Mark Hertzberg
Mark Hertzberg

SDR
Posts: 19419
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

The tendency to "gild the lily," to add a little *more* to a story, to make unsupported parallels and conclusions, is as old as man. Scholarly theses and proper journalism are steeped in a tradition which forbids such excesses -- but other sorts of literature do not follow those rules. So, let the reader beware.



I look forward to reading this book eventually. Thanks for the insight.



SDR

Michael Shuck
Posts: 197
Joined: Thu Apr 06, 2006 11:31 pm
Location: Wichita, KS

The Fellowship

Post by Michael Shuck »

I finished the book last weekend. I initially expected it to be a tabloid tale of FLW and Taliesin. Whole chapters on * at Taliesin. Wright's less than discreet * exploits. And it does start that way and initially, suggests that is the theme of the book. It is not. As someone interested mostly in Wright's work, the major points of his life are explained here. That tied together a lot of loose ends I'd had in trying to understand Wright's life. Why he moved to Taliesin West, why his life was always in turmoil. I did get a chuckle when I read on page 536: "...Jack Howe, especially--had long ago mastered the art of designing houses that Wright would claim as his own, sometimes with few or no changes." The group here has had dialogue about the "purity" of building a "Wright house" from original plans and does that make it a "real" Wright house. So, now there is the question of how many of the houses were "real Wright" houses when he was actually alive! Then on page 484: "With Wright's attention consumed by the big jobs, Jack Howe was increasingly left to handle the residences himself. Wright's input was often little more than very rough sketches and a quick review of the preliminary drawings. The clients almost certainly never knew". My favorite anecdote is on page 361 when Wright and 20 apprentices went to Arch Oboler's house and tore down his fence because it wasn't in the original plans...as then invited themselves to Oboler's barbecue when the demolition was done. It would have been less painful to push bamboo sticks under my fingernails as to have to read all the crap about Olgivanna and Gurdjieff. What a waste of paper. It is easy to understand that The Genius was likely bi-polar at least with his spending sprees and temper. But he was a genius, and no book, either pro or against Wright, will ever change that.

SDR
Posts: 19419
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 11:33 pm
Location: San Francisco

Post by SDR »

Well said. Of course it is interesting to get "the dirt" on ANY subject of interest (or of little interest !) to us -- that's human nature, and sells scads of supermarket tabloids every hour. I readily admit to wanting to know more about Olgivanna, about drug use (if any) at Taliesin, even about Wright's personal habits -- it was years before I saw a photo of him with a cigarette in his hand.



But it's Wright's WORK that means so much to us -- isn't it ? And to learn more about how that work was done (including who did what) will always be rewarding -- if we can trust the source. Thanks for the excellent review.



SDR

Post Reply