Brief Biography of a Famous and Influential Artist 4: Frank Lloyd Wright

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT (1867-1959)

Born: Frank Lincoln Wright on June 8, 1867 in Richland Center, Wisconsin

Died: April 9, 1959 [age 91] in Phoenix, Arizona

Most Notable Works: Robie House, Price Tower, Fallingwater and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Robie House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright was an American architect, interior designer, writer and educator, who designed more than 1,000 projects, which resulted in more than 500 completed works.

Originally named Frank Lincoln Wright, he changed his name after his parents’ divorce to honor his mother’s Welsh family, the Lloyd Joneses. His father, William Carey Wright was a locally admired orator, music teacher, occasional lawyer and itinerant minister. William Wright met and married Anna Lloyd Jones, Frank’s mother, a county school teacher, the previous year when he was employed as the superintendent of schools for Richland County. Wright attended a Madison high school but there is no evidence he ever graduated. He was admitted to the University of Wisconsin–Madison as a special student in 1886. There he joined Phi Delta Theta fraternity, took classes part-time for two semesters, and worked with a professor of civil engineering, Allan D. Conover. In 1887, Wright left the school without taking a degree (although he was granted an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts from the University in 1955).

Frank Lloyd Wright's Price Tower

A genius in design and the architect of his public image, Wright was born during Reconstruction in Richland Center,

The Beautiful Fallingwater House

Wisconsin. He became the most influential architect of modern history. In the late 19th century, Wright left the supervision of Louis Sullivan to design homes for Midwestern clients. His trademark became the “Prairie Style” home, duplicated in many locations around the U.S. with decidedly non-prairie landscapes. Many homes are preserved in the Oak Park district of Chicago, also notable as the birthplace of Ernest Hemingway. Wright was very passionate about creating inviting interior rooms because he felt that the inner rooms are just as important as the exterior design of the building he created. Frank once stated, “The building is no longer a block of building material dealt with, artistically, from the outside. The room within is the great fact about building-the room to be expressed in the exterior as space enclosed.” His world-famous home design, Fallingwater, challenges the idea of indoor and outdoor space. Fallingwater was built into the face of a cliff near Pittsburgh.

Interior of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum

Wright promoted organic architecture (exemplified by Fallingwater), was a leader of the Prairie School movement of architecture (exemplified by the Robie House, the Westcott House, and the Darwin D. Martin House), and developed the concept of the Usonian home (exemplified by the Rosenbaum House). His work includes numerous original and innovative examples of many different building types, including offices, churches, schools, skyscrapers, hotels, and museums. Wright also often designed many of the interior elements that were included in his buildings, such as the furniture and stained glass.

Wright authored 20 books and many articles, and was a popular lecturer in the United States and in Europe. His colorful personal life often made headlines, most notably for the 1914 fire and murders at his Taliesin studio. Already well-known during his lifetime, Wright was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time”.

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