Frank Lloyd Wright: The Fellowship

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Frank Lloyd Wright: The Fellowship
This playlist was created by on Thursday, December 17, 2009.

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Frank Lloyd Wright: The Fellowship (01:13:53)

The second installment in Ken Burns’ powerful documentary on architect Frank Lloyd Wright and his milieu, this program depicts the middle to final years of Wright’s life and career. With the help of rarely seen archival materials and voice-over portrayals by well-known actors, viewers learn about Wright’s late-career struggles and triumphs as well as his immeasurable legacy. Distributed by PBS Distribution. A part of the series Frank Lloyd Wright: A Film by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. (72 minutes)

Introduction to Frank Lloyd Wright's Middle Years (01:18)
At age 62, Wright's career seemed to be over. Younger architect's dismissed him as a has-been, but at Taliesin, he stubbornly refused to admit defeat.

Third Wife Olgivanna: Frank Lloyd Wright's Rock (01:34)
Olgivanna's faith in her husband never wavered. She was seen as his equal and ultimately urged him to lecture and to write. Olgivanna was a follower of the 20th century mystic Gurdjieff

Frank Lloyd Wright's Autobiography (00:54)
Wright's autobiography is seen as a conscious creation of a brilliant artistic mind as well as an attempt to sell himself as a great man who could understand everything about humanity.

Establishment of the Taliesin Fellowship (00:55)
To help pay the bills in 1932 Olgivanna suggested the apprenticeship program. Eager students payed $650 per year to live and work alongside Wright. Apprentices did 4 hours of manual labor per day.

Taliesin Fellowship: Vibrant Intellectual Atmosphere or Modern Plantation? (01:22)
His students believed that Wright was a genius and that their own work would flower through their apprenticeship. Critics charged that Wright gave no formal architectural instruction, using his students as manual laborers for his own projects.

Taliesin Fellowship: Life on the Farm (02:12)
Wright promoted a communal lifestyle that he could never quite pull off for himself. Seating the family on a dais at dinner and evening concerts, Wright held himself and his family--literally and figuratively--slightly above the members of Taliesin.

Olgivanna: Supreme Ruler of Taliesin Fellowship (01:05)
Olgivanna manipulated the personal lives of the students, orchestrating affairs, marriages and divorces. According to a former Taliesin Fellowship apprentice, Olgivanna was hard on the women.

Taliesin Fellowship: Fear, love, and Reverence (01:10)
Taliesin saw itself as an heroic venture; with Wright at the center, it was them against the world. To incur the displeasure of Wright or Olgivanna was to risk complete exile.

Industrialized Architecture: Goodbye to Stone and Wood (01:44)
To the outside world, the 62 year-old Wright is finished. International architects Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Le Corbusier dominate the architectural scene with designs intended to serve the working class.

Wright's Contempt for European Modernism in Architecture (01:42)
Wright held fast to the idea that a person's soul was affected upon entering a building. He thought the new architecture was mechanical, artificial, soul-less.

1932 Museum of Modern Art Exhibition (02:37)
Wright wrote ugly letters to MOMA criticizing the new architectural style. His design submission received little acclaim in the book about the exhibition. Later Wright was able to take up the challenge and remake himself.

Malcolm Willey: A Client! (01:05)
in the late 20's Wright got a letter from Malcolm Willey, a professor at the University of Minnesota, asking if he has time to build a small house. The letter was framed on the wall at Wright's house with the inscription, "Hosanna! A client!"

Fallingwater: Story of the Design (03:12)
Wright apprentice Edgar Tafel tells the story of the most famous modern house in the world; it was commissioned by Edgar Kaufman, the father of another former apprentices.

Tour of Fallingwater (02:23)
An intricate composition, Fallingwater sits in perfect harmony with its surroundings.

Critical Response to Fallingwater (01:53)
Wright proves himself a master of modern architecture with Fallingwater.

Wright's Contribution: Aesthetic and Functional (00:58)
Throughout his life, Frank Lloyd Wright filled man's need for shelter, from the humble to the magnificent.

Usonian House (01:35)
The Usonian house sprang from a request to Wright from Herbert Jacobs of Madison, Wisconsin for a house that could be built for $5000.

Usonian House - Beyond America (02:22)
Usonian house demanded that inhabitants accommodate themselves to the design. In the end only 60 Usonians were ever built--and none for only $5000. Wright claimed that "the mobocracy" were destroying the country with their lack of taste.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Johnson Wax Administration Building (02:08)
In 1936, Herbert Johnson of Johnson Wax Company approached Wright for a design. Wright tackles the project with zeal and wins the bid.

Frank Lloyd Wright: Johnson Wax Design (02:07)
With Johnson unwilling to relocated the building outside Racine, Wright insisted on a windowless building and when inspectors were concerned, he demanded a public demonstration to show that his slender column design could support the building.

Tour of Johnson Wax Administration Center (02:34)
Wright's design created a windowless space that is was like working in a "pine forest with fresh air and sunlight."

Price of Innovation: Failings of Wright Buildings (01:14)
Rainwater leaked into the Johnson Wax building; Wright's other projects had multiple engineering difficulties. Historians perceive that Wright was reaching for something greater than what could be achieved with the materials of the day.

Infatuation With Frank Lloyd Wright (01:34)
Frank Lloyd Wright built Herbert F. Johnson a residence. It was stressful yet thrilling to be client of Wright's. For many, it was the greatest event of their lives. At age 70, Wright is back on top.

1937: Wright in Arizona (01:24)
On his doctor's advice Wright goes to Arizona, taking Olgivanna and the apprentices with him. There he fell in love with the land and way of life.

Taliesin West (02:04)
Built from sand and rock, Taliesin West was a dramatic fortress woven into the landscape. Wright and his apprentices would spend half the year there, Wright himself entertaining the rich and famous from around the world.

Taliesin West: A World Away (01:25)
Life at Taliesin West was so isolated that when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the news barely disturbed Taliesin life. A pacifist, Wright urged his students not to serve in the armed forces, resulting in imprisonment for several.

Photo Tour of Wright's Post WWII Designs (02:26)
At the end of WWII, Wright--nearly 80--entered the most productive phase of his life, designing more than 350 buildings, many of which would not be built during his lifetime.

Frank Lloyd Wright: "I Can't Get Them Out Fast Enough" (00:51)
Wright's grandson likens Frank Lloyd Wright's later process to that of Beethoven, who produced prolifically though he could no longer hear music.

Frank Lloyd Wright: No Limits (00:59)
Wright never let his age inform his artistic sensibility. His ego did not diminish with age. Wright was quoted as saying, "I defy anyone to name a single aspect of the best contemporary architecture that wasn’t done first by me."

Frank Lloyd Wright: Media Figure (02:43)
Wright made himself available to the press; he kept his name in front of people and was one of the first artists to be interviewed on television. He was quick to jump on new technologies. He has been called a showman and a charlatan.

City Views: Conversation with Past and Future (00:57)
Architectural historian Vincent Scully discusses the concept of immortality with relation to builders of cities.

Frank Lloyd Wright: In Love With New York (01:40)
Everywhere he went, Wright denounced the modern city. Architect Robert A.M. stern argues that Wright loved cities and had the the time of his life in New York.

Haunted by the Spiral: Guggenheim Museum (01:23)
Wright remarked that his design for the Guggenheim Museum would, "Make the Metropolitan look like a Protestant Barn."

Battle to Get the Guggenheim Built. (00:51)
Guggenheim and Wright battled over the building; after his death, Guggenheim's heirs battled with Wright. It would take 13 years and the assistance of NYC Building Commissioner, Robert Moses to get it built.

Guggenheim Design: Why It Works (01:33)
The interior was to be one continuous ramp, where visitors would start at the top, and work their way down. Prominent critics attacked the design. Wright dismissed their views.

Guggenheim: Marriage of Art and Architecture (00:60)
Twenty-one prominent artists sign a letter to the New York Times arguing that it would be impossible to display their work on the Guggenheim's sloping walls. Wright responded to the "incubus of habit that beset their minds," in a letter of his own.

Essential Frank Lloyd Wright (00:36)
In a photograph taken at the Guggenheim six months before his death, Wright--at 92--is a "man on top of the world."

April 9, 1959: Death of Frank Lloyd Wright (01:10)
Supervising the final details from Taliesin West, his eyesight failing, he arose eager to work every morning. Five days after a successful surgery to remove an intestinal obstruction, Wright slips quietly away.

Grandsons' Perspective on Frank Lloyd Wright (01:31)
Frank Lloyd Wright's grandsons share their memories of the death of the charismatic man.

Frank Lloyd Wright Buried at Taliesin (02:00)
Disciples drove Wright's body back to Taliesin in Wisconsin along the same route he had taken west every year. He was buried according to his wishes near Mamah Cheney and his mother.

Tour of Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (03:43)
On October 21, 1959, the Guggenheim Museum opens. Wright's genius was to serve everyday needs at the same time creating a transcendental experience.

Impact of Frank Lloyd Wright on the World (02:15)
Architectural historians and architects reflect on the contribution of Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright reflects on the idea of immortality in a televised interview.