Wright’s Curious Public Image

fllw_archives_18This photograph of Frank Lloyd Wright is very unusual. Wright did not smoke. He didn’t even drink until his late life.

There is a wonderful apocryphal story about Wright’s dislike for smoking.

Ayn Rand was a great admirer of his and sent a copy of The Fountainhead  to him for his enjoyment. He never actually read it and instead displaced the responsibility to one of his students. Eventually, a meeting was arranged.

When Rand met Wright at Taliesin East, she was wearing a new dress she had bought just for the occasion. She also smoked to excess and this bothered Wright so much that he tore the cigarette from her mouth and threw into a nearby hearth, where it was consumed by fire.

I imagine Rand was titillated by the experienced but I doubt Wright felt the same way. When she likened his architecture to Le Corbusier, she instantaneously lost his approval. (THE AFFRONT!!!)

Until that moment, Wright had tolerated smoking at Taliesin East, but decided to ban it from thence onward.

Like Edison, Wright was a shameless self-promoter and carefully cultivated the persona he wanted the public to see and, ultimately, admire, Smoking simply was a part of that image and Wright apparently did not mind betraying his personal beliefs for success.


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