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Biography

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Overview (4)

Date of Birth 8 June 1867Richland Center, Wisconsin, USA
Date of Death 9 April 1959Phoenix, Arizona, USA  (surgical complications)
Birth NameFrank Lincoln Wright
Height 5' 7" (1.7 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Frank Lloyd Wright was one of America's most famous architects who introduced his concept of "Organic architecture" and designed such landmarks as the Fallingwater and the Guggenheim Museum of Art.

He was born Frank Lloyd Wright on June 8, 1867, in Richland Center, Wisconsin, USA, into a family of Welsh descent. His father, William Cary Wright, was a music teacher and a Baptist minister. His mother, Anna Lloyd-Jones Wright, was a teacher. His father played the music of Johann Sebastian Bach which Wright later credit as a source of his sense of harmony in music and architecture. His mother involved him in playing with Froebel's geometric blocks, which formed his 3D vision, and lated helped him develop architectural style marked with geometrical clarity. Wright studied engineering at University of Wisconsin for two years, but dropped out without graduating. He moved to Chicago and worked for several architecture firms, including his six years working directly with the "father of modernism" and leader of the Chicago School, Louis Henry Sullivan, who was Wright's mentor from 1888-1893.

In 1889 he married his first of three wives, Catherine Lee Clark Tobin. He and Catherine raised six children together. He also borrowed $5,000 from his then employer, Louis Sullivan, to buy a lot in Oak Park, Illinois and build his first house. That same house he used also as an architectural laboratory by making many changes and additions while developing his original design for the Prarie style of architecture. In 1893 Wright was fired by Sullivan himself, amidst the dispute over Wright's acceptance of a growing number of independent commissions. Then he established his own office in Oak Parc. During the 1890s he originated the style of "Prarie Houses" and designed many private homes in the Prarie School style across the Midwestern United States. At the same time he was commissioned to design several corporate and public buildings in communities in and around Chicago and Buffalo. He had his offices established in the Steinway Piano Building, then later had his office in Orchestra Hall in Chicago.

In 1904 Wright fell in love with Martha(Mamah)Borthwick Cheney, the wife of one of his clients. However, neither of them could get divorced from their marriages, so they eloped to Europe in 1909. In 1910, in Berlin, Wright published his first collection of architectural designs, known as the "Wasmouth Portfolio" and created the first exposure of his work in Europe, which later had influenced such movements as Bauhaus and Constructivism. During his two years in Europe, Wright lived mainly in Italy and became influenced by the Mediterranean architecture. In 1911, back in the USA, he settled with Mamah and her two children in his new home named Taliesin, which means "shining brow" in Welsh, the language of his ancestors. He wanted to marry Mamah, but his first wife was still not giving him a divorce. In August 1914, one of his male servants set fire in the house and murdered Mamah and her two children, as well as several other servants. Wright, was on a business trip and survived the disaster, was devastated and buried himself in work. At that time he was approached by a self-proclaimed sculptor, named Miriam Noel, who offered her condolences and claimed that she could understand him. Soon Wright asked her to move into Taliesin with him, although he was still married to his first wife, Catherine. From 1916 - 1922 Wright worked in Tokyo, Japan where he completed Tokyo's Imperial Hotel, which survived the earthquake of 1923 and found praise after the majority of Tolyo was left in rubble. In 1922 his first wife gave him a divorce that he had been waiting for since 1909. In 1923 he married Miriam Noel, but they separated in less that a year because of her drug addiction, albeit she did not give him a divorce until their legal battle ended in 1927.

In 1924 he met Olga (Olgivanna) Milanoff Hinzenburg, a ballerina with Russian Ballet in Chicago. Olgivanna was a daughter of Montenegro's Chief Justice and a granddaughter of Duke Marko Milanoff. In 1925 Wright invited Olgivanna and Svetlana, her daughter from her previous marriage, to move into his home, Taliesin. In December of 1925, daughter Ivanna was born to Wright and Olgivanna. In 1926 Olgivanna's ex-husband, Valdemar Hinzenburg, sought custody of Olga's daughter, and tried to have them arrested, but the charges were dropped in 1926. Olgivanna and Wright married in 1928. As his personal life had finally came to harmony, Wright's creativity evolved to the new level. In 1932 he and his wife, Olgivanna, established the Taliesin Fellowship School for architects which became a great success with 30 students, and a waiting list of 27 more. In 1934 Wright and Olgivanna were visited by Mr. and Mrs. Kaufmann Sr., the owner of Kaufmann Department Store, beginning one of history's great patron - artist relationships. For the Kaufmanns Wright created his masterpiece, the Fallingwater. It was organically designed above a waterfall to preserve a living harmony with nature, where house and a stream created an interplay through the confluence of falling water and geometrical clarity of architecture. Completed between 1935 and 1937, the Fallingwater became a landmark and one of the most famous private residences in the world. It was used as a family home from 1937 - 1963, then was restored and opened for the public as a museum.

Kaufmann also gave substantial financial backing to other projects by Wright, such as Broadacre City, which was later showcased in Kaufmann's store. Wright also created architectural design for middle class family homes known as Usonian Style, which was caused by the shift of society and answered to the growing demand. In 1937 he designed his third home, Taliesin West, which he completed after purchase of 800 acres of land in Scottsdale, Arizona. There he lived and worked for the rest of his life, he taught a Taliesin Fellowship School of architecture and designed many of his most famous buildings, such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York City, and many other buildings. From 1943 until 1959 Wright worked on the design and construction of the Guggenheim Museum, "I want a temple of spirit, a monument!" requested Hilla Rebay, the art advisor to Solomon R. Guggenheim. Wright created an outstanding design in a shape of an inverted ziggurat, a winding pyramidal temple, or an ascending spiral alluding to such organic form as a nautilus shell. "It was to make the building and the painting an uninterrupted, beautiful symphony such as never existed in the World of Art before," wrote Wright. He created a temple of art, albeit he did not live to see the completion of the Guggenheim Museum, it stands today as a testimony to Wright's architectural genius.

Frank Lloyd Wright died five days after having an intestinal surgery, on April 9, 1959, in Phoenix, Arizona, and was laid to rest near his mother and Mamah Borthwick Cheney in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Then his Fellowship was managed by his widow, Olgivanna until her death in 1985. According to her dying wish in 1985, the ashes of her and her husband were laid to rest in memorial garden of their Taliesin West home in Scottsdale, Arizona.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Steve Shelokhonov

Spouse (3)

Olga Lazovich Milanov (25 August 1928 - 9 April 1959) (his death) (1 child)
Miriam Noel (19 November 1923 - 26 August 1927) (divorced)
Catherine (Kitty) Tobin (1 June 1889 - 13 November 1922) (divorced) (6 children)

Trivia (14)

Left his family in 1909, but wife Catherine Tobin did not grant him a divorce until early 1920s.
Father of seven children: Lloyd Wright (b. 1890), John (b. 1892), Catherine (b. 1894), David (b. 1895), Frances (b. 1898), Llewellyn (b. 1903) and Iovanna (b. 1925).
Pictured on the 2¢ US postage stamp in the Prominent Americans series, issued 8 June 1966.
Grandfather of actress Anne Baxter.
Great grandfather of actress Katrina Hodiak.
Member of the Phi Delta Theta Fraternity
His second wife left him in 1924, although they did not divorce until 1927. While they were separated, his daughter Iovanna was born to Olga, the woman who would become his third and final wife.
1 step-daughter, from Olga, Svetlana.
After he separated from his first wife, he began seeing Mamah Borthwick Cheney, who was separated by her husband. He dated her until she and her two children were murdered with a hatchet by one of her servants. Wright's son John says he was never the same after this.
He began dating his second wife in 1915. She was addicted to morphine and was plagued with a mental illness that was never diagnosed.
His step-daughter Svetlana and her husband died in 1946 when their jeep ran off a bridge. Their 4-year-old son survived and Wright and his wife raised him after that.
Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel dedicated a song to him in their 1970 album "Bridge Over Troubled Water": "So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright".
Wright once designed a building--Mile-High Illinois--which would have been 528 stories, and a total of 5,816 feet tall. Although feasible from an engineering standpoint, building promoters, maintenance crews, and firemen said it would present insoluble problems.
He was a staunch conservative Republican.

Personal Quotes (19)

Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.
God is the great mysterious motivator of what we call nature, and it has been said often by philosophers, that nature is the will of God. And, I prefer to say that nature is the only body of God that we shall ever see. If we wish to know the truth concerning anything, we'll find it in the nature of that thing.
I feel coming on a strange disease -- humility.
The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.
Nature is my manifestation of God. I go to nature every day for inspiration in the day's work. I follow in building the principles which nature has used in its domain.
Don't eat it. It will kill you before your time. Avoid it.
Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.
If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.
I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
I wouldn't mind seeing opera die. Ever since I was a boy, I regarded opera as a ponderous anarchronism, almost the equivalent of smoking.
Television is bubble-gum for the mind.
Life always rides in strength to victory, not through internationalism . . . but only through the direct responsibility of the individual.
An idea is salvation by imagination.
The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.
The heart is the chief feature of a functioning mind.
There is nothing more uncommon than common sense.
The truth is more important than the facts.
An expert is a man who has stopped thinking - he knows!
Freedom is from within.

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