“The Mother Art is Architecture”: 10 Tenacious Quotes by Frank Lloyd Wright

Take a moment to reflect on the extraordinary impact of arguably America’s greatest architect.

Brigette Brown Brigette Brown

Today marks the 152nd anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth, and with it comes an opportunity to reflect on the extraordinary impact of arguably America’s greatest architect.

In his lifetime, Wright built hundreds of structures, wrote nearly two-dozen books and spread his wisdom through lectures, articles and fantastic interviews all over the world. He’s someone we talk about, and will continue to talk about, for as long as architecture exists. His contribution to the field — and his ability to create a kind of spiritual connection between humans, nature and architecture — is incomparable. Wright’s legacy remains in the form of some truly beautiful and harmonious architecture, and the knowledge he has left us with since his passing over a half a century ago lingers on.

Still, every now and then a reminder of Wright’s genius is all we need to continue to push and innovate for the sake of mankind. In honor of this great architect’s remarkable life, we’ve compiled a selection of 10 brilliant quotes by Wright for you to ruminate on.

On architecture and life:

“What is architecture anyway? Is it the vast collection of the various buildings which have been built to please the varying tastes of the various lords of mankind? I think not. No, I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today, or ever will live. So, architecture I know to be a Great Spirit.”

The Kenneth and Phyllis Laurent House in Rockford, Ill.; photo via Laurent House

On political ideals:

“A free America … means just this: individual freedom for all, rich or poor, or else this system of government we call democracy is only an expedient to enslave man to the machine and make him like it.”

On aging and beauty:

“The longer I live the more beautiful life becomes. If you foolishly ignore beauty, you will soon find yourself without it. Your life will be impoverished. But if you invest in beauty, it will remain with you all the days of your life.”

Apprentices Working on the Model of the H. C. Price Company Tower in the Taliesin Drafting Room, Spring Green, Wis., c. 1952; photo via The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation Archives

On New York City:

“The New York skyline is a medieval atrocity … Good architecture shouldn’t have to depend on distance or the dark for its effects.”

On architectural space:

“The space within becomes the reality of the building.”

Fallingwater, Penn.; via WTTW

On ambition:

“You have to go wholeheartedly into anything in order to achieve anything worth having.”

On taste and design knowledge:

“Taste [isn’t] enough … taste is a matter of ignorance. If you know what you are tasting, you don’t have to taste.”

Robie House, Chicago; via Teemu08 (Wikipedia)

On expertise:

“An expert is a man who has stopped thinking because ‘he knows.’”

On architecture as art:

“The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.”

This house, designed by Wright in 1939, was finally realized in 2013. Though the home was intended to be a family residence as part of a series of 60 “Usonian homes,” it now serves as a gallery and visitor’s center at Florida Southern College. Photo via Dezeen

On modern architecture:

“The architect should strive continually to simplify; the ensemble of the rooms should then be carefully considered that comfort and utility may go hand in hand with beauty.”

Bonus: “Insofar as I am immortal, I will be immortal.”

(Top photo: Fallingwater by Andrew Pielage; via Lonely Planet)

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