Saturday, June 07, 2014

Frank Lloyd Wright's Synchromysticism Continues

His influence remains powerful today.

June 8th is special. Frank Lloyd Wright was born Frank Lincoln Wright on June 8, 1867. He died on April 9, 1959, a lover, a visionary, a Fortean, and an architect.

On this blog, I have visited the significance of FLW often. Here are most of my postings about elements of his creations that have interacted with events and works mentioned here, at Twilight Language.

Photo: Fallingwater by Loren Coleman, 2011

"The textile block motifs of the Ennis House are currently featured in the 'Meereen' segments of HBO's Game of Thrones." ~ shared Rammed Earth, via a comment.

On FLW's birthday, I thought it might be appropriate to re-visit a part of FLW's life that mixed symbolism, tragedies, and name games. Few recall today that a servant set fire to his special Taliesin, and killed his lover and six other people. 
In 1903, Wright designed a house for Edwin Cheney, a neighbor in Oak Park, and immediately took a liking to Cheney's wife, Mamah Borthwick Cheney. Mamah Cheney was a modern woman with interests outside the home. She was an early feminist and Wright viewed her as his intellectual equal. The two fell in love, and they became the talk of the town, as they often could be seen taking rides in Wright's automobile through Oak Park.
In 1909, even before the Robie House (shown above) was completed, Wright and Mamah Cheney went together to Europe, leaving their own spouses and children behind. Scholars argue that Wright felt by 1907 that he had done everything he could do with the Prairie Style, particularly from the standpoint of the single-family house.
After Wright's return to the United States in October 1910, Wright persuaded his mother to buy land for him in Spring Green, Wisconsin. The land, bought on April 10, 1911, was adjacent to land held by his mother's family, the Lloyd-Joneses. Wright began to build himself a new home, which he called Taliesin (pictured above), by May 1911. The recurring theme of Taliesin also came from his mother's side: Taliesin in Welsh mythology was a poet, magician, and priest. The family motto was Y Gwir yn Erbyn y Byd which means "The Truth Against the World"; it was created by Iolo Morgannwg who also had a son called Taliesin, and the motto is still used today as the cry of the druids and chief bard of the Eisteddfod in Wales.
On August 15, 1914, while Wright was working in Chicago, Julian Carlton (pictured), a male servant from Barbados who had been hired several months earlier, set fire to the living quarters of Taliesin and murdered seven people with an axe as the fire burned. 

Martha "Mamah" Borthwick shortly before her death.
The dead included Mamah; her two children, John and Martha; a gardener; a draftsman named Emil Brodelle; a workman; and another workman's son. Two people survived the mayhem, one of whom helped to put out the fire that almost completely consumed the residential wing of the house. Carlton swallowed hydrochloric acid immediately following the attack in an attempt to kill himself. He was nearly lynched on the spot, but was taken to the Dodgeville jail. Carlton died from starvation seven weeks after the attack, despite medical attention.
In 1922, Kitty Wright finally granted Wright a divorce. Under the terms of the divorce, Wright was required to wait one year before he could marry his then-partner, Maude "Miriam" Noel. In 1923, Wright's mother, Anna (Lloyd Jones) Wright, died. Wright wed Miriam Noel in November 1923, but her addiction to morphine led to the failure of the marriage in less than one year. In 1924, after the separation but while still married, Wright met Olga (Olgivanna) Lazovich Hinzenburg at a Petrograd Ballet performance in Chicago. They moved in together at Taliesin in 1925, and soon Olgivanna was pregnant with their daughter, Iovanna, born on December 2, 1925.
On April 20, 1925, another fire destroyed the bungalow at Taliesin. Crossed wires from a newly installed telephone system were deemed to be responsible for the blaze, which destroyed a collection of Japanese prints that Wright estimated to be worth $250,000 to $500,000. Wright rebuilt the living quarters, naming the home "Taliesin III".
In 1926, Olga's ex-husband, Vlademar Hinzenburg, sought custody of his daughter, Svetlana. In October 1926, Wright and Olgivanna were accused of violating the Mann Act and arrested in Tonka Bay, Minnesota. The charges were later dropped. During this period, Wright designed Graycliff (1926–1931), the summer estate of Isabelle and Darwin D. Martin.
Wright and Miriam Noel's divorce was finalized in 1927, and once again, Wright was required to wait for one year before remarrying. Wright and Olgivanna married in 1928. ~ Wikipedia summary.
 FLW, circa 1914.


Rammed Earth said...

The textile block motifs of the Ennis house are currently featured in the "Mereen" segments of HBO's Game of Thrones.

Unknown said...

Yes but what of the "coincidences?" They are not addressed by the article. People from Africa believe in demons. Could Wright have been experimenting with demonology?

Before such a possibility is summarily dismissed, let's not forget that England's government and especially its aristocrats were obsessed with conjuring demons, and this includes those with Welsh background.

In fact, the Welsh were not only immune to the Black Plague, but some of the population is also rumoured to be related distantly to Phoenicians, a culture also mired in demonology. King Tut's DNA most closely matched the Welsh. That fact is rarely mentioned by the media, if ever. Why?

It's possible that Frank Lloyd Wright was not merely interested in mythology from Wales, but also some ancient magic, as well.

Cory Panshin said...

And the name Taliesin remains sadly ill-omened ...