Monday, August 19, 2013

The Shining Brow

Last week I took a bus and a train and car just to get to Taliesin in Spring Green, Wisconsin (population 1,628!). Taliesin was the summer home and studio of architect, Frank Lloyd Wright 
My interest in the estate was piqued while reading Nancy Horan's Loving Frank. I was familiar with Wright, his work and even the estate, but when I read that his mistress and her children were murdered in an arson on the property in 1914, I was became fascinated. (There was actually a second electrical fire on the property in 1925, so the house has been rebuilt several times.) 

Taliesin was constantly evolving, because of reconstruction, expansion, and because, over time, there was two different wives and a mistress that maintained the estate. (Now I'm reading TC Boyle's The Women which fictionalizes Wright's relationship with his three wives and Mamah Cheney.) Touring the estate you can see the transformation over time, though they are trying to restore it to it's condition in 1959, the time of Wright's death. 
The estate is in need of some extensive repairs, the degree of which was actually shocking. But the integrity of the home and Wright's vision of working it into the landscape, the shining brow* within the hillside, remains true. I love the way the indoor and outdoor meld into one space, and all the natural elements are inspiring. There is an obvious respect and awe for the environment within which it sits.

Having seen Taliesin, has fired us up to finally get to Wright's infamous Fallingwater and also, to make the trek to Arizona to see Taliesin West, Wright's winter home and school. 

Wright may not have been of questionable character, but he was an amazing architect, designer and visionary.  He designed buildings to live in harmony with their environment, giving thought to every detail of the interior and exterior. I admire his versatility and the enduring values of his work. If you have any interest in space and structures, I highly suggest investigating Wright further.

*Taliesin means shining brow in Welsh.

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