segunda-feira, 19 de agosto de 2013

MANY MASKS. A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright. By Brendan Gill. - Books of The Times By Michiko Kakutani

Books of The Times

By Michiko Kakutani
Published: December 09, 1987

 Wright and family

MANY MASKS. A Life of Frank Lloyd Wright.
By Brendan Gill. 544 pages.
G. P. Putnam's Sons. $24.95.

THE Frank Lloyd Wright who emerges from Brendan Gill's chatty new biography is an architect of genius, but he's also an arrogant con man - a self-promoter and prevaricator, who uses his gift of gab to seduce women and clients, and enhance his own mythic stature as a visionary artist. He's the sort of tireless, self-dramatizing fellow who affects dandified costumes (cape, pork-pie hat and cane), and talks and writes in a pastiche of hyperbole borrowed from Nietzsche and Whitman. In Mr. Gill's words, he's ''an exotic bird of paradise,'' ''oddly combining elements of Whistler, Richard Le Gallienne and William Morris,'' an ''artful dodger,'' ''a confidence man of infinite charm'' who was ''as irresponsible and, at times, as unethical as a Mississippi riverboat gambler.''
Wright himself liked to argue that he was ''a one-man experiment in democracy, an experiment that worked.'' When Louis Sullivan and he came to architecture, Wright told Mr. Gill in an interview, ''it had been slumbering for five hundred years. We woke it up. We gave it a fresh start. We made it organic. We said architecture was space to be lived in, not a facade, not a box, not a monument.'' He went on: ''Does all this sound arrogant? Let it sound arrogant, then! I defy anyone to name a single aspect of the best contemporary architecture that wasn't done first by me. Or a single aspect of the worst contemporary architecture that isn't a betrayal of what I've done.''
Nearly three decades after his death (he died at the age of 91 in 1959), few would dispute Wright's pivotal role in modern architecture or the lasting influence of his work. Wright, of course, was not content to rest upon his deserved laurels. Though he acknowledged the importance of his mentor Louis Sullivan, he essentially wanted to be regarded as a total original, someone who'd sprung from his own platonic conception of himself. According to Mr. Gill, Wright denied the inspiration that the work of Joseph Maria Olbrich provided for such creations as the Larkin building and the Unity Temple; and he tried to argue that all the achievements of the International School (including work by Le Corbusier, Gropius, Mies van der Rohe, etc.) were based upon his own pioneering efforts. As for their influence on his own work (such as the famous Fallingwater house), he denied it to the hilt.
These distortions, says Mr. Gill, were set forth by Wright in his autobiography, in speeches, and in conversation. Nor were the lies and embellishments confined to his work. ''He was a virtuoso at bearing false witness,'' writes Mr. Gill, ''which is to say that he sometimes lied in the name of self-promotion or self-protection and at other times he seems to have lied simply for the pleasure it gave him.'' He apparently lied about the date of his birth (somewhere along the way, he lopped off two years from his age), his name (at birth he was called Frank Lincoln Wright) and his parents' marriage (according to Mr. Gill, he exalted his ''ambitious, half-mad'' mother, while debunking his saintly father). Later, he would lie about his education (turning three terms at the University of Wisconsin into three and a half years), the circumstances under which he got his first job (diminishing the role family connections played in his being hired by the architect J. L. Silsbee) and the ways in which he received various commissions.
Mr. Gill has a penchant for trying to apply Freudian readings to all of Wright's actions and decisions, readings that frequently seem simplistic or strained. He argues that Wright's relationship with Sullivan had all the makings of an unfulfilled homosexual romance, going so far as to argue that Sullivan's drawings were animated by ''a frustrated sexuality,'' while Wright's early graphics evinced a virginal inhibition. He contends that Wright's ongoing financial difficulties have ''the look of a fate pursued rather than imposed,'' and that his highly publicized liaisons with a succession of women also attested to a kind of willful emotional ''brinksmanship.'' No compelling reasons for this behavior are offered, however - we simply come away feeling that Wright was a careless, self-absorbed man, unwilling to assume responsibility for the consequences of his acts.
In fact, the portrait that emerges from ''Many Masks'' makes the architect seem like a heightened version of the egotistical monsters in Ayn Rand's ''Fountainhead'' (a novel featuring a hero widely supposed to have been inspired by Wright's life). Wright, it seems, was someone who could rhapsodize about his mother in his autobiography, but fail to attend her funeral; a man who could desert his wife and six children to run away to Europe with a new-found love, only to take up with a third woman within weeks of that first mistress's violent death. He was someone who could declare he didn't need to see a single other theater in order to design a new one himself; someone who continually heckled, cajoled and lied to his clients in order to get what he wanted.
Postar um comentário