Frank Lloyd Wright, G.I. Gurdjieff and Sacred Architecture - Eric Wheeler

In the past several years the life and work of Frank Lloyd Wright has become widely discussed in popular culture. Wright’s third wife, Olgivanna, was an early and lifelong devotee of Gurdjieff ’s Fourth Way mysticism and introduced Wright to Gurdjieff and his teachings. For over 30 years, from their first meeting in the 1920s until Wright’s death in 1959, Olgivanna was FLW’s life partner and co-director of the Taliesin Fellowship in Spring Green, Wisconsin. Although well known as the originator of Prairie Style architecture, Wright’s best known and most “organic” buildings were designed after he met Olgivanna and established the commune-like Taliesin Fellowship in theearly 1930s. How much of Wright’s post-Prairie Style architecture was influenced by Gurdjieff ’s spiritual understandings of the material world through Olgivanna? This presentation is intended to be more speculative than scholarly in addressing this question. Through visual images of Wright’s buildings and my own experience as an architectural historian, I will present a hypothesis that Wright’s best work was heavily influenced by an understanding of sacred architecture learned, in part, from his wife Olgivanna, herself a Fourth Way mystic. (NB: Much of the material in this presentation is informed by the book The Fellowship – The Untold Story of Frank Lloyd Wright and the Taliesin Fellowship by Roger Friedland and Harold Zellman, HarperCollins, 2006.) Eric Wheeler is a Certified Teacher of the Enneagram in the Narrative Tradition (1999). He offers seminars and private consultations in the Enneagram for churches, schools, businesses and individuals in the Upper Midwest. He is an adjunct faculty member of Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Eric also works as a consultant in historic preservation and heritage tourism.