I wrote a few days ago that "judging by many comments, our interest in him [Frank Lloyd Wright] is as much about celebrity as architecture)." Perhaps I should have written is "more about celebrity than architecture."
Terry Teachout's art blog (an invaluable and daily read) illustrates my point. He notes the discussions about FLW on a few blogs. Rather than furthering the discussion on the essenece of the issue --- "What if anything did FLW actually contribute to architecture, city planning etc? --- Teachout repeats the conventional thinking that FLW was a "genius" but then gets on to the interesting stuff: anecdotes about FLW's personality.
He writes here:
Devoted blogwatchers will be aware that there's a major Frank Lloyd Wright-related wrangle currently taking place all over the blogosphere (go here to start picking up the threads, which lead far and wide). Me, I think Wright was a genius and I'd be perfectly happy to at least try living in one of his houses, even if the roof leaked, but I definitely wouldn't have wanted to pal around with him. Here's my favorite Wright anecdote, from Meryle Secrest's biography:One of Wright's many apprentices to study in that studio recalled that one day when he was buried underneath the Steinway making another of the innumerable attempts to restore its legs, he saw the master saunter into the room. Believing himself alone, Wright arranged three or four objects on the window ledge, then stood back admiringly. He walked over to the piano, still oblivious of the hidden observer, struck a few chords and pirouetted out of the room, singing to himself, "I am the greatest."
(Incidentally, I've seen a kinescope of an appearance Wright made on What's My Line? not long before his death. It's one of the more endearing examples of his rampant egomania.)
Not endearing at all but rather sad. So my preference is that we would leave the poor tortured man alone and in peace and simply consider the merits or demerits of his work without the use of conclusory terms such as "genius."