This information provided by The Federal Observer, http://www.federalobserver.com
LONDON, May, 1939 – Frank Lloyd Wright, one of the most celebrated (and most controversial) of American architects, aroused an ovation without precedent in this background in the last of five lectures that were anticipated as distinguished but which rose to the level of the sensational.
It was generally conceded that Mr. Wright, normally regarded as a radical if the eccentric member of the avante garde of his profession, interpreted the conception of architecture on almost a supernatural plane, while giving due regard to the normal needs of line, mass and perspective.
His talks were given in response to an invitation to deliver the annual Sir George Watson Lectures of the Sulgrave Manor Board. These have been delivered in the Royal Institute of British Architects before crowds such as usually are seen queued up at theatres in the Haymarket.
His interpretation on “An Organic Architecture,” culminated in the following passages:
So far as what education chooses to call culture goes we have been trying all these centuries to beat life and to defeat it, pretty nearly succeeding too. “Authority” has seldom trusted life at any time. We certainly have not trusted life in architecture, nor have we trusted it in economics, and we have not trusted it in politics or statesmanship. We have not trusted it anywhere – no – not even in religion.
The cultural lag has been greatly aided by our wily wanton, prostitute social sentimentality. Nor can any aesthetic whatsoever, no matter how mechanistic and hard it may imagine itself to be, save us now. We have to get people, states and buildings thought-built. Unless the things of life concerning culture, a natural architecture being first among them, are now thought-built from within, I think we are at the end of the last chapter in … is it a great civilization, I wonder? Are we perhaps as the tail of something, dwindling to a conclusion?
How many of you can feel that unless we find this upward way from within, life is on the downward rather than on the upward grade? For myself, I feel we must learn the nature of this organic character and integrity in all that we do now or perish. If we do not soon learn to call that learning “culture” we shall soon learn to call what we now call culture, a curse.
I have seemed to belittle the nature of our time and the great achievements of science, but I have intended to do neither because I believe human nature still sound, and recognize that science has done a grand job as well; but well I know that Science cannot save us.
Science can give us only the tools in a box, mechanical miracles that it has already given us. But of what use to us are miraculous tools until we have mastered the humane, cultural use of them?
We do not want to live in a world where the machine has mastered the man; we want to live in a world where man has mastered the machine.
What we call organic architecture is no mere aesthetic nor cult nor fashion but an actual movement based upon a profound idea of a new integrity of human life, wherein art, religion and science are one: From and Function seen as One, of such is Democracy.
~ Postlogue ~
When Frank Lloyd Wright was given the high distinction of an invitation to deliver the Watson lectures, he was the “grand old man” of the radicals creating a new functional form of architecture, based on the principles described above.
No one guessed in 1939, when he was 70 years of age, that at this writing in 1959 he still would be the fiery leader of the “modern” movement, both in the lecture hall and at the building sites of his creations. In 1959, in his ninetieth year, just before he died he personally supervised erection of the $3,000,000 Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, on Fifth Avenue, New York – the first building designed by himself to be erected in New York.