May 03, 1928

Frank Lloyd Wright, Infuriated by “His Obituaries”, Declares His Comeback

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Common wisdom had it that, at sixty, Frank Lloyd Wright, though a grand old man, was history. This construction, not surprisingly, enraged him. Here he expresses frustration with “his obituaries” and declares, “for the sake of the cause - "Architecture” -, that he wants to “to arise and fight.” What he intends to do, in fact, is stage that “favored American institution,” the comeback. “From now on,” he tells Mumford, “you are to find me actively engaged in that performance.” To this end he invites Mumford to use his “clear head, good pen and good heart” to help him repel the “European invasion of our own Country” in which architects are coming “to teach us what we have been successfully teaching them.”

Wright did indeed stage a comeback; he began, in the 1930s, a remarkable professional renaissance. 

Typed Letter Signed, 1 page, quarto, on the letterhead of Albert Chase McArthur, Architect, Phoenix, Arizona, May 3, 1928. To Lewis Mumford.

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Transcript

Albert Chase McArthur  
Architect
311 West Jefferson Street
Phoenix
Arizona

May 3rd,1928

Mr. Lewis Mumford,
4112 Gosman Ave.,
Long Island City,
New York.

Dear Lewis Mumford:-

In searching for the photographs of Taliesin which Mr. Saylor, editor of Architecture, asked me to find for you, I gathered together a little collection of photographs from which you are at liberty to select, whatever, and as many, as you may desire to keep.

I think you should have some of these hitherto (for the most part) unpublished views in your possession.

My obituaries are all of such nature as to make me want to arise and fight.  Indeed, I feel that for the sake of the cause,- "Architecture",- to which I am so deeply committed, I must "come back".  The "come back" seems to be a favored American institution.  From now on you are to find me actively engaged in that performance.  So far as your clear head, good pen and good heart will go in the matter, I hope to see you standing by.

It is a shame - this Eurpoean [sic] invasion of our own Country - to teach us what we have been successfully teaching them.  But that, I suppose, does not so much matter if in the end the cause is best served by it.  We have it by "Holy Writ" that this is no new thing under the sun.  History shows us how hapless a thing what we call progress is and how it frequently arrives "wrong end to".  I suppose we should be comforted that it does arrive.

Faithfully,

FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT