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Plains, Planes, and Perspective: Redemptive Horizons in Architecture

Lindstrom, R 2021 , 'Plains, Planes, and Perspective: Redemptive Horizons in Architecture', in R Lindstrom and A Wojtowicz (eds.), On Human Horizons , Hobart: Pademelon Publishing for the W. D. Joske Interdisciplinary Colloquium, 2021, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia, pp. 132-145.

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Frank Lloyd Wright was something of a duplicitous scoundrel! He preached a new “honesty” in architecture but, himself, was often dishonest and unscrupulous. In saying this, I do not merely repeat the reports of numerous historians but, instead, relay the essence of countless stories told by my late teacher, mentor, and friend, Lawrence B. Perkins—another giant of Modernism in American architecture. His stories matter, because Larry knew Frank Lloyd Wright as a personal friend of his parents, as a regular visitor to the Perkins home in the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, and, during those visits, as one on whose lap the young Larry was bounced. He also knew Wright to be a member of an informal federation of Chicago architects—loosely begun by Larry’s father, Dwight Perkins—which serendipitously developed an approach to architecture that would eventually be named the “Prairie School” and see its influence extend even to Australia, particularly by way of two other family friends, Walter Burley Griffin and Marion Mahony. Gradually, Larry also learned that his father was amongst those who quietly, but regularly, had to rescue Wright from his self-inflicted troubles—both personal and financial. Although his father had once “loved that man,”1 Larry came to see Wright as one who never paid a bill, as “a confidence man” who deserved to be “run out of town,”2 and, even more severely, as a “sanctimonious and supremely selfish destroyer of people.”3 History argues with none of that, yet Wright was not run out of town, and even Larry’s view became more benign, finally concluding that, as with Richard Wagner (another creative “monster”4), the legend surrounding Wright “far exceeds the personal evil he strew about him,” and “the fact that he was unworthy to wear the legend . . . no longer matters”5 (see figs. 15.1 and 15.2). Thus, the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright is somehow both redeemed and redemptive, and that points to the subject at hand—human horizons—because it is in Wright’s horizonality that such redemption and redemptiveness is found.

Item Type: Book Section
Authors/Creators:Lindstrom, R
Keywords: horizons, knowledge, place, architecture, Frank Lloyd Wright
Publisher: Hobart: Pademelon Publishing for the W. D. Joske Interdisciplinary Colloquium, 2021
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