Brooklyn creative agency Quoted Studios has produced an animated video using audio excerpts from an interview with legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright, recorded two years before his death (+ movie).
The conversation with Wright aired in September 1957 on the American television program, The Mike Wallace Interview.
The architect was 90 years old at the time and had completed a long list of seminal projects, from his Taliesin campuses in Wisconsin and Arizona to the Fallingwater house in Pennsylvania.
Wright – who believed that architecture should work in harmony with the environment – designed more than 1,000 structures during his life, with more than half being built.
Quoted Studios, a nonprofit content agency that is devoted “animated journalism”, discovered the interview with Wright in an archive in Texas. It extracted audio excerpts and paired them with animated graphics to create the six-minute video.
Wright addresses a variety of subjects in the interview, often expressing disdain for his critics and architecture in general. On the topic of The Guggenheim – the cylindrical museum by Wright that opened in 1959 – the architect said someone compared it to a washing machine.
“I’ve heard a lot of that type of reaction and I’ve always discounted it as worthless,” he says in the interview. “I think that any man who really has faith in himself will be dubbed arrogant by his fellows. I think that’s what happened to me.”
He goes on to bash the architecture of New York City, stating that has been corrupted by financial interests. “It is all a race for rent, and it is a great monument, I think, to the power of money and greed trying to substitute money for ideas,” he says in the movie. “I don’t see an idea in the whole thing anywhere.”
Wright tells his interviewer that he would like the opportunity to rebuild the entire United States.
“Having had now the experience going with the building of 769 buildings, it’s quite easy for me to shake them out of my sleeve, and it’s amazing what I could do for this country,” he says.
“I think the way of life to which the country is committed needs that change. I wouldn’t like to change so much the way we live, as what we live in, and how we live in it.”
The architect describes all architecture created within the past 500 years as “phony” because it lacked an organic quality. “It didn’t have the character of nature,” he says in the excerpt. “I put a capital N on nature, and call it my church.”
During the interview, Wright later expresses his dislike of New York’s St Patrick’s Cathedral and the intellectual community, and he shares his advice for young, aspiring architects. “The answer is within yourself,” he says. “That’s where architecture lies, that’s where humanity lies, that’s where the future we’re going to have lies.”
Wright died on 9 April 1959 in Phoenix at the age of 91. The US Department of Interior has nominated 10 Wright buildings for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
The interview is part of Quoted Studio’s Blank on Blank series, produced in collaboration with the Public Broadcasting Service and with support from the tech company Squarespace. The series features animated videos that illustrate historic interviews with famed authors, actors, musicians and other creative figures.
The team discovered the interview with Wright in the archives at the Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
Executive producer: David Gerlach
Animator: Jennifer Yoo
Series producer: Amy Drozdowska
Assistant producer: Jessie Wright-Mendoza
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