The Fellowship

Frank Lloyd Wright has been canonized as America's greatest architect - the man who gave us the Guggenheim Museum, and dozens of other 19th and 20th century American architectural landmarks. The scandals of his early life - including his multiple marriages and the bizarre axe murder of his third wife and family by an outraged servant in 1914 - have long since become the stuff of legend. Yet by far the most bizarre, prolonged, and fascinating period of Wright's prodigious career - from 1932 through the end of his life in 1959 - involved his founding and stewardship of the Taliesin Fellowship in Spring Green, Wisconsin a kind of academy-cum-architectural-firm-cum-communal living foundation he created together with his third wife, Olgivanna. A devotee and former lover of the legendary mystic Georgi Gurdjieff, Olgivanna Wright saw Taliesin as a potential American outpost for Gurdjieff in the United States; Wright saw it as a kind of miniature society in which he could play feudal lord - dressing his young and willing apprentices in matching uniforms, demanding that they perform endless physical labour, even intruding into their personal lives in unexpected and sometimes alarming ways. Wracked by dissent, almost constantly bankrupt, the facility nevertheless became the seedbed of some of Wright's most impressive projects - from the innovative Johnson Wax building to the unforgettable Fallingwater. After his death, Wright's widow and remaining apprentices quietly conspired to preserve secrecy about the dark side of Taliesin. Now, in "The Fellowship", sociologist Roger Friedland and architect Harold Zellman have persuaded dozens of former apprentices - and Wright's remaining daughter, long out of the public spotlight - to reveal the truth. The result is a twisted and haunting tale of genius and ego, mysticism and chariatanism, violence, deep sexual dysfunction, and more - a magisterial work of biography, one that will forever change how we think about Frank Lloyd Wright.

architecture, biography, communal living, Frank Lloyd wright, gurdjieff, Modernism
Roger Friedland

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