Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Frank Lloyd Wright | Taliesin West and Camouflage

Mason City poster © Roy R. Behrens
In the following text, the newspaper article referenced is “Architect Wright’s Arizona Home, Last Word in Camouflage, Blends into Landscape of Desert” in The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento CA), May 14, 1940.

In 1911. the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright established a studio near Spring Green, Wisconsin, on a property that had long been owned by his maternal Welsh ancestors, the Lloyd Jones family. He referred to that location as Taliesin, which is Welsh for “shining brow.”

Beginning in 1935, Wright no longer remained in Wisconsin year-round. Instead, he and his students traveled annually to the Southwest, to spend each winter in more compatible weather in a desert setting, twenty-six miles from Phoenix, Arizona. The complex he established there became known as Taliesin West.

In May of 1940, a newspaper article described Wright’s Taliesin West (still unfinished at the time) as the “last word in camouflage.” World War Two was underway (although the US was officially neutral), and the article recommended that “the artists of wartime camouflage could learn a lot from the sprawling, unusual structure” that Wright was then developing in Paradise Valley, near Scottsdale AZ.

Although Wright himself might not refer to his architecture as camouflage, the article goes on to say, it is nothing short of that, since “the building blends so completely with the desert landscape that it is scarcely visible a half-mile away.” Indeed, “were it not for the white canvas roof it would almost be lost in the rugged mountain topography at a distance.”

Proposed book cover (2016) not used

Cedar Rock talk about Wright and Modern-era furniture (2018)