Frank Lloyd Wright ALS

Lot Number 759
Author Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright ALS

Year Published
Place Printed
Printed By
Description ALS, two pages on two adjoining sheets, 5.5 x 7.5, August 7, 1926. Letter to Lewis Mumford. In full: “I want to tell you how much I liked your ‘Poison of Good Taste’ in the Mercury. It was so clear and sound. Your pen seems pointed in the right direction and could I wield mine as effectively I might be a better champion of a cause where I am confined to a hod of mortar and some bricks—as the matter stands. I have been interested in reading my ‘obituaries’ in WENDINGEN. The heart and brain of my work is apparently effectually concealed by thought—the language in which I architecturally clothe mine seems to have been a successful disguise—which none of my critics have penetrated. Your article was interesting and sensible until you touched me and then you seemed to be trying to do the fair thing by something you did not quite understand and reluctantly sympathized with ‘on principle’—I think if we were to ‘walk and talk’ together a little your judgment might be in a similar direction but different. It struck me as somewhat ‘diffident.’ A ‘poet in architecture’ means something not included in the estimates of my generously inclined colleagues—when they turn critic—, if I am to be trusted. But I am grateful just the same. You can be of great service to an ideal, the one that has persisted since time began and must prevail, for it is Nature raised to the nth power. This ‘ideal’ that is now, as before, and will be, swamped by a little brief authority. The ideal will take care of itself—it always has done so—. But if only someone could take care of the fools who waste our birthright as a ‘free people’ in this rash mortgage they forge, to be paid by posterity with usurious interest. They ‘blow in’ the proceeds therefore on the masquerade with us more than a half-hearted false-pride gratified, to show for it. We are agreed on many matters in principle, I am not one of them.” Intersecting folds, red pencil date notation to first page and some slight soiling to second page, otherwise fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope addressed in Wright’s hand. Published in Frank Lloyd Wright & Lewis Mumford: Thirty Years of Correspondence, Princeton Architectural Press, 2001. In the early 1920s, with his individualistic and organic approach to design and his near-absence from the architectural hub of New York City, Frank Lloyd Wright was largely ignored by peers and critics alike. An important exception was the up-and-coming critic Lewis Mumford, who in his controversial 1924 book Sticks and Stones, offered a harsh critique of American architecture, with a brief positive mention of Wright. The following year, Mumford contributed an essay to a special issue of the Dutch journal Wendingen dedicated to Wright (referred to in this letter as his “obituaries”); and finally, in 1926, sparked this initial correspondence with his article ‘The Poison of Good Taste’ in The American Mercury. While questioning the depths of Mumford’s understanding in his typical condescending tone—“Your article was interesting and sensible until you touched me and then you seemed to be trying to do the fair thing by something you did not quite understand”—Wright does offer several complimentary and inviting lines, beginning a friendship that would span a lifetime. The incredible first letter from the now-famous correspondence of two pivotal figures in 20th century American architecture and urbanism.
Estimated Price USD 2,000.00 - 2,500.00
Actual Price USD 5,251.20



Auction House RR Auction
Auction Name Rare Manuscript, Document & Autograph - bidstart 12/19
Sale Number #421
Auction Date January 15, 2014 - January 15, 2014
Sale Name Rare Manuscript, Document & Autograph - bidstart 12/19
Total Lots 1773
Description of Sale

Post Sale Description

Book Images 7811282f-98cb-4df1-bd10-b820fe6293a6 Dcb1ac68-d811-40ff-b65c-0c6aa205d739 38f7e4b4-b058-457b-8976-a1831d7d2e10