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Who were the "best" apprentices ?
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
Posts: 7616

PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 1:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

jim, Charles Warren Callister was not an apprentice. He did, however, design some wonderful houses, some on his own, and some with his partner Jack Hillmer, including one on Belvedere Island which is one of the finest houses of the 20th Century. Another non-apprentice who should have had more notice (beyond Elizabeth Gordon, who featured him in many HB issues) is the still active Alfred Browning Parker, who is finally getting a book written about his work. Of a later generation who never studied at Taliesin (sounds like a lead-in to a Red Buttons routine) is Will Bruder; he knows more about Wright than most people who passed through the apprentice program. Even E Fay Jones, who spent a mere 6 months at Taliesin, can hardly be considered a former apprentice, but still he created some wonderful work that epitomizes the principles of FLW. The point being, that it has never been necessary to touch the hem of the Master to understand what he was all about. And attending Taliesin was never a guarantee of success, either financial or aesthetic.
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JimM



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 1341
Location: Burlington, WA

PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roderick Grant wrote:
The point being, that it has never been necessary to touch the hem of the Master to understand what he was all about.


Absolutely. Yes, Parker's work is indeed right "up there". A fascinating house in Florida (?) with extended floor slabs, beautiful stonework, and great detailing impressed me years ago as much as Frank's work did - which was a much taller order to fill at the time than today!
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jim



Joined: 17 Aug 2006
Posts: 237
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2007 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes I see Callister was not an apprentice. I googled him and found, among other things, a 1999 newsletter of the Northern California Taliesin Fellows, reporting on a Callister lecture and referring to him as "a prodigious and gifted designer, never an apprentice of Wright, by an inspiring deliverer of organic architecture."

And the correct name is not Langendorf but Langhorst. According to Sally Woodbridge's "Bay Area Houses" (1988) Fred Langhorst was at Taliesin from 1931 to 1936. She publishes photos and plans of one of a usonian in Lafayette, CA by Langhorst and Langhorst. Fred is also pictured and discussed in Edgar Tafel's "About Wright" and referred to several times in The Fellowship. I have also seen a photo of Fred and Lois together at Taliesin East, but I cannot recall in which book. She was not a fellow, according to Woodbridge.

The apprentice who did the wonderful usonian in Woodside (Aitken residence, c. 1959) was David Wheatley.

The October 1959 issue of House Beautiful "Your Heritage from Frank Lloyd Wright" (Elizabeth Gordon) lists 15 fellows at Taliesin and 19 others around the country practicing organic architecture.
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Wrightgeek



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

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:40 am    Post subject: Best Apprentices Reply with quote

Just this morning I recalled another Taliesin apprentice who I was remiss to mention in my earlier response.

As many of you will already know, Bill Bernoudy did the majority of his work within 50 miles of St. Louis. Like most architects/designers, the quality of Bernoudy's work could be somewhat uneven, but his better efforts were very good indeed, demonstrating a high level of organic sensibility.

Would anyone one else who is familiar with Bernoudy's work care to comment?
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pharding



Joined: 25 Jun 2005
Posts: 2203
Location: River Forest, Illinois

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 9:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Paul Ringstrom wrote:
...I would call Griffin, Mahony, etc. Wright associates as opposed to Wright apprentices. Although their Wrightian principles were absorbed similarly, with or without pay or tuition.

I too, am of the opinion that the "assistants", Frank Lloyd Wright's term for the Prairie Period permanent staff, should fall into a separate category from the later apprentices. In the Cause of Architecture, 1908, FLW presents an idealized view of their professional development. He was clearly interested in their professional development, although that was very secondary to producing great work. Grant Carpenter Manson has very interesting notes at the end of his book about the assistants, much of which was gleaned from interviews with the living ones in 1930 to 1940. In my opinion the Prairie Period assistants were in a much better position for professional development than the apprentices. If for no other reason across the course of a year, the professional contact time was much greater. Also these original assistants played a critical, but always secondary, role in producing FLW's great architecture of the period. Each group was fortunate learn from such a great architect.
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outside in



Joined: 29 Jul 2006
Posts: 1069

PostPosted: Sun Jul 15, 2007 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perhaps the distinction between assistants and apprentices could be defined by their living situation - i.e. apprentices lived in "the compound" and the Oak Park staff lived off-campus. In this way the Oak Park staff had the opportunity to pursue independent projects in their off hours.
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Mackintosh



Joined: 12 Jul 2005
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Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: Tue Jul 17, 2007 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How can you say the staff learned from Wright? I believe they all learned from each other. WBG graduated with a degree in architecture, while Wright did not. WBG knew about the technical aspects of architecture because of his university program so he was able to help Wright. The Oak Park Studio was definitely a collaboration. Who says Wright was original at all when Rennie Mackintosh was working at the same time in a very similar style.
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MHOLUBAR



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

PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 10:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There is so much to bring to this discussion. Frank Lloyd Wright may have emulated Macintosh's tall back chairs but they are uniquely his own. The Prairie style grew from the Arts and Crafts Movement that Macintosh was so much a part of, but it also incorporated the sod house's batterred walls, and moved into the modern era trying to adapt to living with 'Nature' in the vast American prairie. The character of the Oak Park practice was much more traditional, along more accepted lines and styles. They built houses for captains of industry that wanted to make a statement about their accomplishments and their choice of architect(s), who could afford to pay.
With the Great Depression and the demise of many of his strongest supporters FLW decided to join the 'Avant Garde' and bring modern european architecture (complete with all the beautiful Japanese influences) to America as a 'gift to democracy'. I'm sure he knew, as most artists find out, that their best accomplishments will go unrecognized and unrewarded. The fact that he found so many devotees in the cause of architecture is really astounding. The fact that he allowed the cult of Olgivanna is not really so shocking when you measue what he was up against. After all he was her devotee too.
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Agplate



Joined: 18 Jul 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 18, 2007 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a post Wright apprentice myself, there are many that I really love and respect, but I think John Lautner is the one who really took the principles and made them his own- as we're supposed to do. He was able to get out from under the shadow more than most. When he came to Taliesin in the late 80's for a visit, he was just such a cool guy and what I remember most was his slide show, in which he only spent about 4 seconds on each slide, leaving us students groaning and pleading for more time and discussion!
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KevinW



Joined: 06 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:08 am    Post subject: apprentices Reply with quote

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Last edited by KevinW on Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:10 am; edited 1 time in total
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KevinW



Joined: 06 Feb 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 1:09 am    Post subject: apprentices Reply with quote

Roderick Grant wrote:
Unless you remember House Beautiful during the reign of Elizabeth Gordon, you may not recall the work of Mark Mills. I would place him among the top. He was able to go beyond imitation to incorporate FLW's principles in totally original work. His Carmel house is one of the few A-frame houses of any significance, the form not being all that good for residential work. He also was the principal designer for Nate Owings' (of SOM) A-frame in Big Sur, a masterpiece.
Similarly, Bob Beharka, whose work is deceptively simple, exemplifies the very best of FLW.
Aaron Green and Karl Kamrath remained much closer to the Master, but still produced some exquisite work. John DeKoven Hill, who stayed at Taliesin (minus a few years at HB) may rank as the best of the lot.
A post-Wright apprentice, Wallace Cunningham has done wonderful work.
I was always drawn to Jack Howe's work until I saw some of it firsthand at the 2000 Conference in Minneapolis; on his own, he did not do much good work, in my opinion. Very disappointing.


Mr. Grant I commend you for identifying the quality of Bob Beharkas work. His own house is one of me and my wifes favorite, and plan to visit him this week. He is a wonderful man, great woodworker, and quite intellegent. He turns 81 this year, and still maintains an office.
Also, Mark Mills, who just passed away in June, was a talent. You all know how I feel about my LieberMeister, Aaron Green.....I also very much admire the work of Art Dyson.
There is, I am sure that there is a great deal more to Johnnie Hill than what we already know. He was indeed talented.
I enjoy Karl Kamraths work, although other than meeting Wright, I dont believe he was ever an apprentice.
Henry Klumb in Puerto Rico brought his own to the mid century modern movement, and quite nicely in my opinion.
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Roderick Grant



Joined: 29 Mar 2006
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 06, 2007 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Give Bob my regards; I haven't seen him for quite awhile. Not only is he a fine architect, but one of the nicest persons I have ever met. Sorry to hear about Mark Mills. I never met him, but I've admired his work for many years.
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kahrisma



Joined: 27 May 2007
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 5:28 pm    Post subject: My Vote Reply with quote

I am, obviously, biased but I will put in a vote for my father, Don Erickson. This is not to say, however, that I do not admire the works of other apprentices! My mother, Shirley, was a counselor at Hilltop Camp operated by Eloise and Herbert Fritz. She met my father at Taliesin; he was her tour guide. Dad, and his cousin, Richard, were apprentices between 1948 and 1951. Richard was my father's chief draftsperson between 1953-4 and 1992.
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SDR



Joined: 17 Jun 2006
Posts: 14609
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 10:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I missed the earlier mention by Mr Grant of Alfred Browning Parker. His 1965 "You and Architecture: a practical guide to the best in building" (Delacorte Press) is illustrated with B+W photos by Ezra Stoller, including 11 of buildings by Callister, three of Dow, five of Hillmer's Ludekens residence, 11 of Rudolph, 50 of Wright -- and 75 of his own work.

I'm glad to hear there's a new book in the works. It is always interesting to have new (color) photos of older work, and to compare them to the early shots.

SDR
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SDR



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 19, 2007 11:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote


Hillmer's Ludekens, Stoller (Browning)
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