Frank Lloyd Wright, E. J. Kaufmann, and America's Most Extraordinary House
On Sale: April 19, 2005
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Fallingwater Rising is a biography not of a person
but of the most famous house of the twentieth century.
Scholars and the public have long extolled the house that
Frank Lloyd Wright perched over a Pennsylvania waterfall in
1937, but the full story has never been told.
he got the commission to design the house, Wright was
nearing seventy, his youth and his early fame long gone. It
was the Depression, and Wright had no work in sight. Into
his orbit stepped Edgar J. Kaufmann, a Pittsburgh
department-store mogulâ€“â€śthe smartest retailer in
Americaâ€ťâ€“and a philanthropist with the burning ambition to
build a world-famous work of architecture. It was an
unlikely collaboration: the Jewish merchant who had little
concern for modern architecture and the brilliant modernist
who was leery of Jews. But the two men collaborated to
produce an extraordinary building of lasting architectural
significance that brought international fame to them both
and confirmed Wrightâ€™s position as the greatest architect of
the twentieth century.
Fallingwater Rising is
also an enthralling family drama, involving Kaufmann, his
beautiful cousin/wife, Liliane, and their son, Edgar Jr.,
whose own role in the creation of Fallingwater and its
ongoing reputation is central to the story. Involving such
key figures of the l930s as Frida Kahlo, Albert Einstein,
Henry R. Luce, William Randolph Hearst, Ayn Rand, and
Franklin Roosevelt, Fallingwater Rising shows us how
E. J. Kaufmannâ€™s house became not just Wrightâ€™s masterpiece
but a fundamental icon of American life.
One of the
pleasures of the book is its rich evocation of the
upper-crust society of Pittsburghâ€“Carnegie, Frick, the
Mellonsâ€“a society that was socially reactionary but
luxury-loving and baronial in its tastes, hobbies, and
sexual attitudes (Kaufmann had so many mistresses that his
store issued them distinctive charge plates they could use
Franklin Toker has been studying
Fallingwater for eighteen years. No one but he could have
given us this compelling saga of the most famous private
house in the world and the dramatic personal story of the
fascinating people who made and used it.
contribution to both architectural and social history.
Studio 360 - August 26, 2006
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