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The life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, more than his work, on Arte

 The life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, more than his work, on Arte

A documentary without boredom, but superficial, puts in images the biography of the great American artist of the 20th century.

The life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, more than his work, on Arte

This documentary on Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), who considered, immodestly but rightly, as the greatest American architect of the XX th  century, seems to refer to good sources, and to talk to licensed specialists. There is nothing boring but it remains, alas !, on the surface of things, contenting itself with fairly general repetitions. We had already noticed the same defect in Karajan. Portrait of the Maestro (2019), signed by the same director, Sigrid Faltin.

Frank Lloyd Wright, the phoenix of architecture seems moreover not to find its angle and its axis: the title could suggest the analysis of the creative renewal by periods known so many artists. But not really at Wright's: even if the Guggenheim Museum in New York remains in the eyes of the general public his most famous construction, this building of singular genius is perhaps the least typical of its author.

Wright has certainly evolved, but he was above all characterized by the permanence of architectural gestures (flat or low-sloping roofs, band windows, opening to the outside, communicating interior spaces, alloy of concrete and Gothic, etc.) . This can be seen from its first houses in the "Prairie" style to the famous Fallingwater House, clinging to the side of the waterfall, through its massive and monumental constructions inspired by Mayan temples.

More prosaically, the title actually evokes the fires that destroyed, in whole or in part, his residence in Taliesin, in the countryside of the architect's native Wisconsin, in particular the one who, in 1914, had hit the headlines after a housekeeper had murdered seven people with an ax - including Wright's companion who had remained at the estate in his absence - and then set the building on fire.

Romantic escapades

In fact, the subject of the documentary seems to be attached to the contrasting character and the agitated sentimental life of Wright and his companions, mistresses and wives ... For this purpose, the writer TC Boyle is questioned who, in addition to having bought a house built by Wright, made the architect, his romantic escapades and his school-phalanstery the fabric of The Women (2009, Les Femmes , Grasset, 2010).

But nothing, or little, of a little depth on the gesture (the man was chivalrous and haughty in the certainty of his genius) and the architectural gesture of Wright, no real perspective - on his relationship with the Bauhaus in particular : it is not enough to say that the American designed “nicer” interiors to distinguish him from the school of Walter Gropius whom he influenced - and whom he despised ...

As for its form, the documentary uses the inevitable tics of the time, with animated figurines and other artefacts to fill some void - the height in the case of Wright who avoided the walls where you could hang paintings ... As for the soundtrack, it offers very dubious arrangements of classical music ...

At one point, however, we hear Appalachian Spring (1944), by Aaron Copland , who embodies the "Prairie" and the great American spaces. A development on these emblems of the "Americana" that are the musician and the architect (very music lover) would have been welcome. But it is surely too much to ask of this documentary which, by wanting to address everyone, misses almost every opportunity to deepen its subject a little.

I have ambitions and goals in my life, and I am now trying to achieve them calmly, as the name also came on my channel and website.