When I did a tour of Oak Park hosted by Rickshaw Rick, I heard him describe Frank Lloyd Wright as a cross between Michelangelo and PT Barnum. A phrase like that sticks with you. I quickly learned that he was a 'larger than life' self-promoter. As a first up tourist, I had assumed incorrectly, that Wright alone had pioneered the 'Prairie Home' architectural style, and that the impressive house I was looking at was his work. Neither assumption was correct and Frank's Prairie homes were somewhat disappointing by comparison.
However I'm like a detective, as you know, and I had already done some of my research on Frank before my enjoyable tour with the affable Rick, who was a keen historian. I knew exactly the two events in Wright's early life I wanted to know about in 'Life Cycles' terms. Frank was born June 8, 1867 so he was in his first adult, age 24, 'Year of Revolution' between June, 1891 and June, 1892. He was then working for renowned architect Louis Sullivan, had married, taken out a $5000 loan (a large sum in those days) from Sullivan to build his first home and had expensive tastes. What did this cocktail amount to, if you add the imperative of him not doing any private work in his own time? Something has to give and yes, you end up with the now famous 'Bootleg Houses', of which eight are still standing
I inspected some of them and confirmed that the projects commenced in early 1892, placing it within this fateful year. He took on these independent commissions when he shared the office on the 17th level of the Auditorium Building right next to Sullivan's own office. In other words, for some considerable time Frank was two-timing his boss, right under his nose. This, of course, was to bring him unstuck some two years later and lead him to a new age/direction of self-employment. This however, sets up a very interesting hypothesis. What was Frank doing in his next important, mid-life age 36, 'Year of Revolution' in June, 1903 to June, 1904, that could be considered a perpetuation of the same theme? This process is the essence of the 'Life Cycles' theory. It takes me on many a fascinating journey.
As soon as I went to the summary it said in relation to the year 1903:- 'Midlife Controversy'. I asked Rick to take me to the Cheney House on the other side of town. I engaged him in a discussion of just how Frank and Cheney's wife had come to be lovers. Why did Frank even take on the commission, when he was not in the habit of doing work for friends? It turns out the Cheneys and the Wrights mixed in the same social circles and Frank, at first, was not keen on supervising their house renovation project. It was an unimposing home, hidden by trees and shrubs, and I'm told the owner of the house next door, boarded up a window that would have allowed his children to see into the Cheney home, which had become the love nest of Frank Wright and Mamah Cheney.
Mamah had engaged his interest by getting involved in the dynamics of the design process and she was an early feminist and considered a 'modern woman', by the standards of those times. Their relationship became the talk of Oak Park and was eventually to lead on to Frank setting up residence with her and finding himself black-listed from any new clients. It was to become the end of the Oak Park chapter of his life. All this, originally begun right under the nose of Edwin Cheney. This time he not only two-timed his long-suffering wife, but he two-timed his neighbor, friend and client. You don't have to be Einstein to see the similarity of the events that happened at 24, being mirrored by the events that happened at 36. They were almost substantively and not just symbolically similar.
Frank went on to be one of the greatest architects, not only of the US and of the twentieth century, but arguably of all time. I fell in love with the Guggenheim Museum, which was his final masterpiece. However he had a ruthless and egocentric streak, that would not be suppressed by ethical expectations. 'Life Cycles' analysis will reveal the essence of the individual, good and bad, and eventually form part of what I term the 'Life Script'. It was true for Frank and Roy and Donna and Chopper and Strop and Keith and Nicole and many, many, many others. Just read all my posts and then ask yourself a simple question:- " Is this just all pure chance, a few lucky guesses one after the other, too difficult to understand let alone quantify, etc. etc. etc.?" Or am I onto something?