Architectural Excursions: Frank Lloyd Wright, Holland and Europe

Architectural Excursions: Frank Lloyd Wright, Holland and Europe

Architectural Excursions: Frank Lloyd Wright, Holland and Europe

Architectural Excursions: Frank Lloyd Wright, Holland and Europe


Soon after 1900 in both North America and Europe the evolution from the tradition of Mediterranean and Gallic architectural styles to modernism began. This phenomenon was due, in part, to American industrial architecture and the work of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright's buildings and architectural treatises of 1898-1908, with the additional help of Dutch propaganda on his behalf, significantly influenced European practitioners and theorists. European architecture within and outside of Holland reflects an adaptation of Wright's theories along with the structural determinism of American industrial buildings. With new evidence and fresh analysis culled from Dutch and American archives, personal correspondence, and professional material, this study examines the weight of Wright's works and words and those of the Dutchmen H.P. Berlage, Theo van Doesburg, Jan Wils, J.J.P. Oud, William Dudok, and Hendrik Theodor Wijdeveld.


Art and sport have something in common: high rewards for special performance--but only for a small number of performers at the top. In sport, it is accepted that star performers work assiduously to develop their public image and sell their names to the highest bidders among advertisers. Students of architecture believe that the road to fame for the "great makers" is different: their talent is recognized by the architectural community, they receive favorable reviews, win prizes and finally are granted honorary doctorates. This is true, but not the whole story. Many famous architects have put in as much work on building a reputation as have, say, football stars. This book shows such effort in abundant detail in the case of Frank Lloyd Wright.

It does not mean that the fame is undeserved. Solid achievement is required for critical acclaim in the highly competitive world of international architecture. Every practicing architect knows that only a few are going to "make it" because (as in international sport) from a crowd of contenders there is but little room at the top. On stage the fairy tale of the slowly recognized talent and the gradual winning over of the world architectural community is carefully maintained, but behind the scenes much intrigue and manipulation goes on.

Such famous architects as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe or Gerrit Rietveld edited their own catalogues raisonnés. Some works were simply left out as "too untypical." Walter Gropius wrote, together with Herbert Bayer, a book about the history of the Bauhaus, an idyllic story of harmonious cooperation. Only when Hans Maria Wingler delved into the Bauhaus archives did the infighting first come to light.

Nor is the world of architecture an exception. For years the American poet Robert Frost posed as a "sunny and lovable New England sage." His official biographer was appalled, once he had examined Frost's papers, to find him to be an "opportunistic careerist, who was prepared to lie, cheat and wound in order to . . .

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