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The creative mind. The Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council presents Frank Lloyd Wright architect as creative as a number two in the National Association of educational broadcasters series The creative mind used by WGBH Af-Am in Boston under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center. These conversations explore the creative process as it pertains to the American artist and scientist in the 20th century. And here is our host and commentator for the creative mind. Lyman Bryson. We're going to continue our series of conversations with a talk I recently had with Mr. Frank Lloyd Wright the architect. Mr. Wright's a very striking type of the creative mind. He's had a long life and he has succeeded in startling and there
weltering and conquering the taste not only of Americans but of a very large part of the world in Europe and Asia to spread his ideas of design all over everywhere. He doesn't mind being paradoxical in fact he rather likes throwing things and other people's glass houses in his conversation with me he announced a number of themes which I think we will find running through all of these talks. He has strong ideas about education for example he thinks were making a rather bad mess of it in our bringing up of the young he thinks that we tend to suppress the creative powers that they have. We tend not to develop them along natural lines naturals a great word with Mr. Wright. He thinks that all great ideas come out of nature that all great artists depend upon nature that his own creativity came out of his close contact with nature in his youth and the fact that he was allowed to have that one of the things he objects to most
about the way we plan our cities and our houses use it we cut off our people from that contact with nature which would encourage and develop in us the powers that he thinks are so valuable. He touches also on another theme which a great many of our creative thinkers are interested in. The relation between restraint and freedom. That is the necessity to be faithful to experience. To be truthful in what one reports and works with. But at the same time to give scope to the imagination. In fact we began talking about the term the creative mind. I asked Mr. Wright if there was such a thing as a general creative mind or that it would be closer to the truth to say that creative ness shows itself in special ways and special forms of creative activity. Is there such a thing as a general creative mind. Well we were very courteously as a rule I don't think people who know exactly
what I mean what do you mean by a creative writer. I think I'm reflecting an assignment rather than anything else Mr. Wright. What I mean by it when I use it is a capacity to use the techniques of the past without being bound to the ideas of the past. The one creature. I think if you were a truly creative you would be in league with what we call nature. And I think you would interpret nature very differently from the usual interpretation. I'm inclined to put a cover on the word nature because I'm sure that no human is really capable of creating anything except that it is somehow related to the nature of the seeing and the way it's wired.
And all of the other features of doing you don't mean by that Mr. Right that creative mind simply reproduces a natural object or a natural scene. That would be impossible it can't be done except on a very low level of intelligence. No I mean saying into the saying and looking at it and coming out with something of its characteristic. Nature using a nature again and a broad sense of the intrinsic character of whatever. And it's a kind of capacity to express an insight into what I said I believe that what we would call a creative individual who could see and come out with something fresh something vital to whatever it happened to very he was doing. You think this is a widespread capacity a mystery right. I think it ought to be of and I'm afraid
it isn't because of education it is the capacity is there that we kill it. If you're just great or we don't intend to kill it we think we're going to develop it. When we men are conditional and do not and I was and I don't lie to men it's not so simple because it's a quality of freedom that's needed and that freedom is lacking. But just as he pleases what intellect just complete lack of restraint or try to know the complete lack of restraint. I don't think restraint is an element in it at all. When I say freedom I mean an opening of the door when the fresh air NACER again universe comes in and he goes or she goes out to it. You mind if I ask you a personal question at this point. I'd like to know very much Mr. Wright if you can remember in your own youth what happened
or what series of happenings occurred which somehow enabled you to discover in yourself the capacity to create things in artistic sense. I don't think you quite correctly because I didn't discover it in myself. Somebody discovered and you then developed to the point I am going to accuse but personality has not been a conscious search on my part and very recently when I became more self conscious perhaps I ought to be. But it was quite natural to me because of my early training because I chose my ancestors with the greatest care. My father was a preacher and my mother was a teacher for a lot of music and preaching. And mother love teaching I know and this is even in her elder years would bring in
some backwood children and have closure and trying to do something for her. So she put me down to the kindergarten table when I was seven. That was Fribble kindergarten. I don't know if you're familiar with the F R O he be credible as Hatter I'm a professional reading I want to feel awesome and of course to sing you talk of creating cannot occur without some losses. No artist I think ever who didn't have his philosophy and his philosophy developed by way of what he can call perhaps his education his way of enlightenment. It isn't often education now maybe it used to be so there it was and then my young and I coupled
with this. Can a gardening why frivolous as you beds a youth crime drawing from nature the appearances of nature until I have discovered some part of the principles form the flyback of the facts in nature. When I had that I had to grow from nature I wanted to desire and using those principles and elements of nature and that's what my mother did for me and I think that was where I began to be an architect. Now coupled to that was the first experience I was getting to be a sort of a Little Lord Fauntleroy growing up there the special school in Boston and I had long curled finger curls that mothers like to put on their heads and their little darlings velvet pants
and when she saw those going too far she cut those curls from the back of my head and sent me up to my uncle James on the phone and Uncle James took over my education at that point I was 11 I went out there and every summer up to the age of 18 I went to the farm. And I never went to school a printer because the farm was so much more fascinating and structure. Didn't your brother's music have something to do with this too Mr. Wright rather manic Of course I used to go to sleep to this frenzy when I heard him play almost all of Beethoven sonata. And I could I went to sleep to them and hear him playing down below on the Steinway Square and the singing and music has always been to me one of the great creative arts and Beethoven probably the greatest of all
the builders of the architects. Father taught me to listen to a symphony and as an edifice as I will see an edifice of sound and that was to cover the kindergarten. So music became architecture. Everything in nature was architecture. And then I got to the farm I found out who and how I was where nearly everything around me was concerned which was very useful too. And I've never found anything that useful that contact firsthand with the experiences of the struggle which we call work on the farm. Well you've got three elements here you've got a sense of structure of music and an appreciation of that kind of structure and you've got your firebox principle of seeing the basic structure of natural objects before you try to make a
representation of them and you've got your own acquaintance with yourself as a person that learning that you're up here 11:00 here Mr. Right on the line is I'll have known my love I think you better take it up to 18 18 if you're all right up to oh it was 11 she went to the farm and I wasn't conscious of it myself because I was not sure of the boxing or skating or riding or anything. When did you start actually building. When did you go. When I went solo it was 1893 and I put my name on the door and by the way it was a plate glass the first glass panel door ever seen and goal as architect first time you saw it like plaster you put your name on it. And I was three already having been born in 1816.
I think you were about 24 but now in your experience you will have quite specific and definite ideas Mr. Wright about the things that gave you your your basic shall we say education or training Lightman whatever you want to call I'm trying to look at the nature of the grownup turned and look the other way and I seldom look back when. Well but the experience of a man like you who's done so much for your own heart seems to me we ought to be able to tap it somehow and use it for the development of whatever talent there is in other young people. What what can we do to keep the power to do things to create things. I'm going on about doing. And I'm not telling you how. Not by showing them how and by their doing them for themselves. That's the
basis of telling as in as we have it no foundation for young architects. We have them from all over the world who are 65 and there at the present time and all we try to do for them and we try aspiration and not teach them. But open the doors and windows of what constitutes the good life. I don't believe you can get an architect. Shakespeare said it didn't. You can't make a silk purse out of the year so he must be a cultured individual before he will ever be able to do much with architecture. So the collateral arts music and all of the crafts and especially movement. Own enter into the culture we're trying to have for a young man who wants to be an architect and all we expect to do for him is to
open the doors and windows of what you call one of those callers and I give a more specific term live as building a structure and whatever. And again the word nature we want to read leisure and then as we can to the very nature of the thing he would do by letting him share and the doing and I believe that a man really learns shift and perhaps principle by what he did. Do you think that each man's original genius is self corrective or does he need somebody who is older and wiser than he did point out something I will never have. I think we'll never know a substitute for leadership but leadership is what we need and leadership doesn't necessarily imply a doubt instruction.
It does perhaps imply a correction of a sort but it does imply most of our exemplary example but him where he can see the think properly done and done well rather not crap where he's an assistant and doing of the things superbly well and all as necessary as the sympathy and feeling the desire to do something that is beautiful and he can sell something and is a modern city the natural Mr Eye and modern set is of course just disappearing. It was of course our great misfortune and we didn't have architects genuine Arcos coming over with our golden father and most of them know the government or the London dramaturg town.
And of course an true British fashion has started a platter here just as a home and so far as our towns are concerned there are still a little fashioned town and we've never planned one. We've crammed the present one with all sorts of gadgetry and the automobile has something that can they can tear the rotten spots and throw them out and cruise and make free wares of people can get out of the country. And at first ill served forgetting and the whole the gregarious nature of man in the Middle Ages is no no longer a friend of culture. So there once was the Asian culture there was no other way of getting culture and now it's in a way it's an aware of the dissemination of and I was aware and
aware and German what was true and good have fallen apart and sort of being liberated and by choice. We've got somebody standing on our feet the elbow on our rivers are pushing us around. We're pushing somebody around and there is no real or real development of what we declared as the sovereignty of the individual. I was thinking back to your boyhood your years on the farm that gave us a sense of freedom. Mr. WRIGHT What about all the young people who live a nice outmoded and more abandoned places. Do they get do they get any contact with nature. Well you've heard of the teenager and I certainly have a teenager problem I think distinctly surprised over a gregarious life not with Green Acres
not where the wind blows and where a man is free to indulge his instincts according to his better nature or everything and is likely to develop. What do you call it suppression or oppression. All these pressures are exerted upon youth in the name of education in the name of parental authority and I'm going to thing I like to name but freedom is not there and he doesn't know freedom and if we did we wouldn't have the teenager problem. The architect coming on this Mr. Wright what and what could a better race of architects do for us to conquer this is because we love the lives of the architect is primary is the real cornerstone of the new culture of NASA
so anytime anywhere in the world that we need him now more than I ever needed him because we haven't had it we've not had the enlightened architect the architects we've had undereducated in the bows of the old system architecture is man certain fashionable things that develop during the century route architecture lost its roads a hundred years ago. And it's very well told by Victor Hugo and her story or not and he tells us about the great cathedral. And tell us what happened and destroy it and what happened and destroy the cathedral was a new tool coming into our hands which we never had learned and I was the machine. Are we done with machinery used to
desecrate our and nature hood rather than to develop that which a machine should enable us to do. And there I think today is the basic problem of the architect and the architect is the basic servant of society. But where our architecture goes and gone into goodness and I don't think that we haven't had the training ground for them. Where would they go to learn these things we're talking about. They go to the department and some university which is merely a department where there should be a basic University in itself it should be fundamental elemental to hurt we cause and lighten up. And it doesn't exist. It's very rare on one side as an adjunct Possibly but only superficially and therefore we
are and drive practical as far as is needed for the new things and a new life in a new form. I should go over the scientific and government science is really over developed as we are scientific beyond any capacity. Some people want us to be still more so. Yes and that's of course to me it seems. And trusting that there are people Mr. Wright who seem to believe that you can make an industrial society beautiful you're going to have the advantage of industry you've got to have a certain amount of a business is not only a treasure to the Declaration of Independence and the sovereignty of the individual good to the nature of the human being I think it was the nature of the human being to love and desire beauty and to do its best to live in it. Look at the
civilizations of the recalled printer. Now those primitive civilizations were far superior where their life was concerned in relation a nation and we are that whole thing and somehow make start its go on backward rather than forward because we've tried all these ways of making life artificial it's not the fault of the machine itself is it. And Shane is not at fault for anything it's a great tool but it's not a great tool for come struction our lives for destruction and I should put it into the hand of what we were calling created mind architects. Man with a deep sense of structure or a sense of the elemental and human nature. What is it in this Mr. Wright that makes so many of us respond to the to the
tremendous to the top to the monumental impressive in modern architecture if it's wrong. I suspect that it is I'm sure you think so. The thing in itself is not wrong but all those bones were dedicated to the inferiority complex. An article aeration of the sovereignty of the individual the man with a different sense of proportion and I felt like when I was a young architect so my scale in the builders of the humans people said to the fire and still five feet nine and six feet three or four at all my values would have been different and their right they would have been right here on Park Avenue not more than two hundred yards from here Mr. Wright are building enormous square boxes of steel and glass. Now is this just merely inclosing space or is this expressing
something deep in our sense of design. Perhaps some of them do one thing and some another. When you see a doctor. Sense of space is what has been preserved in Paris and made Paris most beautiful city in the world today. We've lost as in our city and in most of our lives we've lost a sense of space. Nothing is more important and that is the sense of the new architecture the space within and becoming a reality of the building and the rows and was taking place according to The New Thought that we call organic architecture and which are devoted devoted he said were put into circulation where the teenager could. Philip I understand that you wouldn't be a
problem we'd be listening to him and following him versus ourselves. Education is really depriving us as it exists of all those virtual which I've been referring to as creative. There will never be anything creative coming out of the education which a teenager will receive today and there's a drift toward conformity. And what about the debt talks about higher drift toward science or the compulsory movement I learned Ghana's address toward conformity or science is something you can put your hand on and something you can see and you will only see what you can put your hand. Science is of course capable and will eventually learn joy and art and religion and when there are one then we will begin to have the right kind
of education will have the right kind of buildings we will have a greatly improved method of life. It's a great it's a great reassurance Mr. Reich to have you base your belief in the future partly upon the natural gifts of artistic power and appreciation and the natural human being grown in the world nature in your own right through to when you are setting out a future for the architect as you describe it which is why this culture of nature itself is is there a new chair like that for the architect the architect is the natural interpreter in terms of structure from whatever it is for his people but he can help make it took and his will as interpreted. Well it probably will make you who will help make it but the interpretation is in itself creative.
Creative mind
The architect as creator
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program features Frank Lloyd Wright speaking about architecture and creativity.
Series Description
This series, hosted by Lyman Bryson, presents radio essays about the creative process for the American artist and scientist in the 20th century.
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Guest: Wright, Frank Lloyd, 1867-1959
Host: Bryson, Lyman, 1888-1959
Producer: Summerfield, Jack D.
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 58-44-2 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:20
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Chicago: “Creative mind; The architect as creator,” 1964-03-22, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 28, 2022,
MLA: “Creative mind; The architect as creator.” 1964-03-22. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 28, 2022. <>.
APA: Creative mind; The architect as creator. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from