Frank Lyod Wright and Louis Sullivan

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After decades of fiscal disaster and alcoholism, Sullivan finally reconciled with Wright before dying in a solitary Chicago hotel room, all of the success of his life behind him. In fact, he was so destitute that Wright paid for the funeral. Perhaps this is a fitting end, representative of their relationship.


Louis Sullivan, one of the great architects of the last half of the 19th century, was a brilliant artist with both practical office experience and a year at the famed cole des Beaux-Arts in Paris before entering a partnership with Dankmar Adler in 1879. Credited with being the first to give an appropriate form to the steel skyscraper, he was a precursor of American modernism and managed to produce the only forward-looking design of the 1893 World's Colombian Exposition in Chicago.1 Unfortunately and unfairly, this designer of dozens of lauded buildings, who helped reshape the manner of building structure and aesthetics, is primarily known today for one thing-his role as Frank Lloyd Wright's
Sullivan's famous motto of "form follows function" influenced Wright immensely and was a major reason why Wright considered Sullivan his only influence. That the relationship was mutual is demonstrated by the events of 1889. In that year Wright married Catherine Lee Clark Tobin, and Sullivan loaned him the enormous sum of $5,000 to buy property in Oak Park, Illinois and build a house.4 His willingness to help Wright illustrates the mutual respect between the employer and employee at this time.

Although one of his early works, the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park can be considered a workshop, used by the architect to begin developing some intriguing concepts. ...
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