C. Keith Ray

C. Keith Ray writes about and develops software in multiple platforms and languages, including iOS® and Macintosh®.
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Friday, April 10, 2015

Wright Interview

(Originally posted 2003.Jul.11 Fri)

I picked up a tape of the Mike Wallace Interviews of Frank Lloyd Wright the other day. It consists of two 25-minute interviews that were recorded around 1957, when Wright was around 88 years old. The first interview says a LOT about 1950's art of "the celebrity TV interview" and not much about Wright. The second interview was better, but neither one lets you hear Wright say anything specific about any of his buildings.

"My name is Mike Wallace; the cigarette is Philip Morris". In the first interview, Wallace is apparently trying to get to know "Wright, the man" by asking controversial questions like "what is your opinion on organized Christianity?" and "What do you think about mercy killing?" and questions about the "Mobocracy". Wright answers the questions very carefully and reasonably, well aware that he's on nation-wide TV. Unlike modern-day interviews, the interviewee isn't prompted or allowed to tell stories about his life.

Sometimes the first interview degenerates into asking about other celebrities: "What do you think about Salvador Dali?" and Picasso? Wallace tries to get Wright to say something about Charlie Chaplin's "anti-Americanism" (Chaplin was forced to leave the US because of accusations of Communistic tendencies), but changes the subject when Wright mentions McCarthyism. The last question of the first interview is: what do you think of Marilyn Monroe's architecture?

Quote from the first interview:
"I don't think Architecture is for the Mob, it certainly isn't for education. Education certainly knows nothing of it. And very few architects in the world know anything about it. I've been accused of saying I was the greatest architect in the world, and if I had said so, I don't think it would be very arrogant because I don't believe there are many, if any. For 500 years architecture has been phony... in the sense that it was not innate, it was not organic, it didn't have the character of Nature."

In the second interview, (several months later, back by popular demand) Wright is more comfortable, and can express his philosophy at more length. Still almost nothing "concrete" about architecture, though.

Quotes from FLW in the second interview:
"I would like to make architecture appropriate to the Declaration of Independence, to the center-line of our freedom; I would like to have a free architecture. I would like to have architecture that belong to where you see it standing, an architecture that was a grace to the landscape rather than a disgrace."

On the New York skyline:
"[It] never was planned; it's all a race for rent, and it is a great monument I think to the power of money and greed, trying to substitute money for ideas. I don't see an idea in the whole thing anywhere, do you?"

Answering "can you give me something to live by?" (the question young students ask of Wright):
"The answer is within yourself. In the nature of thing that you represent as yourself. Jesus said it, I think, when he said the kingdom of God is within you. That's where Architecture lies, that's where Humanity lies, that's where the future we're going to have lies. If we're ever going to amount to anything, it's there, now, and all we have to do is develop it."

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