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April 23, 2010

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This is one view from Frank Lloyd Wright's pimpin' Arizona desert pad, Taliesin West. He got real mad when the transmission towers went up and he even walled in some windows because in his esteemed eyes the vista had been ruined so he shifted the focus away from the valley to the mountains behind. Which came first, the city or electricity? He loved this spot because in 1937 there was nothing here but abstraction and clean air. Now Scottsdale encroaches and Frank is OK with that because he's been dead 51 years--otherwise there'd be hell to pay. His use of local materials, 4:8:16 proportions (why didn't the tour guide reduce that ratio to 1:2:4?), and general aesthetic flair make TW sublime in many respects. The fact that it is always falling apart should or shouldn't detract. FLLW (the way he signed off on projects, I suspect in part because it evokes "FeLLoWship") had a rare touch and a rarer talent for harnessing his own talent--the chiefest attribute in what makes successful artists in contradistinction to those who merely make great art. I wonder if any architecture is great from every angle, but there are certainly many places at TW where the perspective is harmoniously perfect (IMHO) and it feels good and right to stand there and look at it--although mainly for me from the outside. Maybe that's why Ayn Rand modeled Howard Roark on him--look but don't touch, more head than heart. An avid motorist, his Broadacre City concept, like Corbusier's Ville Contemporaire, was plain wrong (or at least inhuman). But I think I could live quite happily in the FLW room at NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art.