Frank Lloyd Wright was renowned during his life not only as an architectural genius, but as a subject of controversy—from his radical design innovations to his turbulent private life, including the notorious mass murder that occurred at his Wisconsin estate, Taliesin, in 1914. Yet, as this landmark new book reveals, that estate also gave rise to one of the most fascinating and provocative experiments in American cultural history: the Taliesin Fellowship, an extraordinary architectural colony where Wright trained hundreds of devoted apprentices, while using them as the de facto architectural practice where all of his late masterpieces—Fallingwater, Johnson Wax, the Guggenheim Museum—were born.
A decade in the making, The Fellowship draws on hundreds of new and unpublished interviews, along with countless unseen documents from the Wright archives, to create a captivating portrait of Taliesin and the three mercurial figures at its center: Wright, his imperious wife Olgivanna Hinzenberg, and her spiritual master, the Greek-Armenian mystic Georgi Gurdjieff. Authors Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman reveal how the idealistic community of Taliesin became a kind of fiefdom, where young apprentices were both inspired and manipulated by the architect and his wife. They trace the decades-long war of wills between Wright and Olgivanna, in which organic architecture was pitted against esoteric spiritualism in a struggle for the soul of Taliesin. They chronicle Wright's perennial battles with clients, bankers, and the government, which suspected him of both communist and fascist sympathies. And through it all they tell the stories of Wright's devoted apprentices—many of them gay men—who found an uncertain refuge in the architect’s Wisconsin and Arizona compounds, and who helped the master realize his dreamlike architectural visions, often at great personal cost.
Epic in scope yet intimate in its detail, The Fellowship is an unforgettable story of genius and ego, sex and violence, mysticism and utopianism—a magisterial work of biography that will forever change how we think about Frank Lloyd Wright and his world.
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Roger Friedland is a cultural sociologist who studies love, sex, and God. Professor of Religious Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and New York University, he is also the coauthor of The Fellowship: The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship (with Harold Zellman). He lives with his wife in Santa Barbara, California.
Harold Zellman, a historian of modernist architecture and communitarian movements, is the principal of Harold Zellman and Associates, a Los Angeles architecture firm.Review:
“Compelling.” (Kirkus Reviews)
“The Fellowship both fascinates and infuriates. You can’t top the material for richness: genius, sex, spirituality, madness, money, mania.” (USA Today)
“[A] blockbuster...packed [with] plenty of sex and surprises. ...This book has a lot of news.” (Capital Times)
“A mesmerizing account of the drama that compelled the great architect...to greater accomplishments...and the cost of that success.” (Ken Burns, award-winning director of The Civil War, Jazz, and Frank Lloyd Wright)
“Authoritative and eminently readable...uncover[s] the sometimes strange, sometimes scandalous, always tumultuous atmosphere in which Wright created his pioneering designs.” (Robert C. Twombly, author of Frank Lloyd Wright: His Life and His Architecture)
“This book replaces Wright the demigod with Wright the man...[A] new—and truer—picture of Frank Lloyd Wright.” (Alan Hess, author of Frank Lloyd Wright: The Houses)
“Sheds light on the forgotten men and women who played so important a role in bringing...[Wright’s] conceptions to reality.” (Franklin Toker, author of Fallingwater Rising)
“Fascinating...good history. And a ripping read.” (Architect's Newspaper)
“An extraordinary and disquieting tale...that captures the strange, shadowy and all-too-human world that can gather around genius.” (Mark Stevens, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of de Kooning)
“First to treat the Taliesin Fellowship as a whole — its origin, its workings and its inner life.” (Wall Street Journal)
“Just when you thought there was nothing new to be learned about the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright, a massive, gossipy and yet compulsively readable new book proves you wrong. . . .Friedland and Zellman break new ground with dozens of firsthand interviews that illuminate the crucial role of the apprentices—and of his regl last wife, Olgivanna—in shaping the second half of the architect’s storied and controversial career.” (Chicago Sun-Times)
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