Speaking Volumes: Discover Frank Lloyd Wright, the architect and the man

Special to the HeraldJune 8, 2014 

Ask anyone the name of a famous architect and it's almost guaranteed that one of the first names they will think of is Frank Lloyd Wright. Born on this date in 1867, Wright's personal life was melodramatic enough to make a fascinating bio-pic today. The Manatee County Public Library System has DVDs and nonfiction and fiction books for both adults and children on this all-too-human artistic genius.

Ken Burns' excellent documentary, "Frank Lloyd Wright," tells the story of Wright's turbulent and often scandalous personal life, his growth and development as an architect and interior designer, and how his architectural ideas and philosophy changed the way we live, work and perceive our world. As in any Burns documentary, the scripting, cinematography, archival footage, interviews and choice of background music are sublime.

"The Homes of Frank Lloyd Wright," an A&E America's Castles episode, concentrates on the three homes that Wright created for himself -- his "Oak Park" home in Illinois, "Taliesin" in Wisconsin (the site of the horrific murders of Wright's mistress, her two children and four others by an insane servant) and Wright's winter home and school in the Arizona desert, "Taliesin West." The architectural significance of all three homes is explored in this informative episode.

A beautifully illustrated introduction to his various edifices can be found in the oversized book, "Frank Lloyd Wright: Force of Nature," by Eric Peter Nash.

The most famous private house in the world, Wright's iconic "Fallingwater" (built partially over a waterfall in rural Pennsylvania) gets its own biography of sorts in Franklin Toker's "Fallingwater Rising: Frank Lloyd Wright, E.J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House." The book has been called "a major contribution to both architectural and social history."

"Wright-Sized Houses: Frank Lloyd Wright's Solutions for Making Small Houses Feel Big" by Diane Maddex profiles 10 small Wright-designed houses. Exterior and interior color photographs depict Wright's techniques for building or redesigning a small home to make it feel more spacious and tranquil. Also by Maddex, "50 Favorite Furnishings by Frank Lloyd Wright" showcases a lesser-known aspect of Wright's career -- his mastery of interior design elements such as furniture, lighting, windows and more.

Speaking Volumes, written by Manatee County Public Library System staff members, is published each Sunday. Access the library online at www.mymanatee.org/library.html. Fran Barba is a reference librarian in the Manatee County Public Library System.

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