The Autobiography of an Idea

The Autobiography of an Idea

The Autobiography of an Idea

The Autobiography of an Idea

Excerpt

It appears most appropriate at this time to again bring to the reading public this autobiography on the one-hundredth anniversary of the author's birth.

History, according to a quotation which I once scrawled in an old textbook, "is time's negative. Looking at it, it is the mirror of the past; looking through it, it is the lens to the future."

Several have written of Louis Henri Sullivan, his architecture, his creation of organic ornament, his literature (both prose and poetry), his philosophy, his prophecies and his teachings. Some writers, still entwined with Renaissance architecture and art, were too close to the mirror to see Sullivan and his work as well as we believe we can today. A few others like Claude Bragdon, who wrote the foreword for the first edition of this book in 1924, were able by thought and deed to remove the academic film from the mirror. Bragdon saw Louis Henri Sullivan as a man to be coupled with Whitman and Lincoln. Thirty-two years ago, this evaluation of Sullivan may have seemed an exaggeration borne of enthusiastic appreciation by a few friends; today, it is not at all remote.

My introduction to Louis Henri Sullivan reflected this academic film which clouded the mirror. As a student of architecture a few years after Sullivan's death, I was taught that Sullivan was a radical in the profession of architecture and that his work was not to be followed. This was the view of many who were still entrenched in the Renaissance as a source of inspiration for all architectural design. But the strong, clean proportions of the designs of Sullivan and others who followed . . .

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