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A rare broadsheet from Frank Lloyd Wright expressing his opposition to American involvement in World War II, sent to Lewis Mumford
Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin, [May1941]. 8.5" x 8.5"(folded),17" x 17"(open). "Broadsheet, A TALIESIN SQUARE-PAPER A NONPOLITICAL VOICE FROM OUR DEMOCRATIC MINORITY. (Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin, [May 1941]) 4pp. 8.5"" x 8.5"" (folded), 17"" x 17"" (open), this issue (No. 5) titled, ""TO BEAT THE ENEMY"" Addressed on the verso in type to ""MR. LEWIS MUMFORD AMENIA NEW YORK"" who tersely writes, ""Return to"" with an arrow pointing to ""TALIESIN,"", crossing out his name and writing ""'Take,"" as well as adding a date in pencil: ""July 41"". Light toning toward original folds and margins, else fine condition.Subtitled, ""A FREE FEARLESS ENLIGHTENED MINORITY IS THE CONSCIENCE OF A DEMOCRATIC NATION. WHEN IT IS STIFLED, DEMOCRACY IS GONE FROM THE LIFE OF THE PEOPLE AND FROM THE LIFE OF THE NATION,"" this was an occasional series of publications published by Wright at Taliesin between 1941 and 1953. The early issues, focused on Wrights' resistance to the United States entering the war in Europe???though Wright, who was a principled opponent of war and empire, would not characterize his stance as isolationist. Entitled ""TO BEAT THE ENEMY,"" Wright decries all forms of ""despotism,"" whether it German, Russian, Japanese, or American. ""No matter who wins this war, we, the people will eventually have to resolve this clash between two despotisms: the visible despotism of the axis powers and the invisible despotism of the so-called Democratic powers... Democratic despotism is losing visibility rapidly as we sneak toward total war. If we ask we will find the answers to be the same. Winning the war is not going to help the people if either set of rulers win if orthodox-finance governs heir use of the victory as it most surely will, unless the people act NO. If the people do not act no, democracy is no longer a living issue! If Hitler wins he would have to remain a visible despot. If Churchill wins he would have to become one with Franklin Roosevelt a likely a second.""Lewis Mumford and Frank Lloyd Wright first began corresponding in the 1920s, after Mumford had contributed an essay to the Dutch journal Wendingen in 1925 in which he discussed Wright's work as a continuation of a line of innovation begun by H. H. Richardson and Louis Sullivan as well as placing Wright in contrast to the European modernists like Le Corbusier. Mumford also characterized Wright's work as an ideal of form and expression ideally suited to the American landscape. An article along similar lines authored by Mumford for The American Mercury, elected a response from Wright in August 1926, in which the architect questioned the depth Mumford's understanding of his work. A set of exchanges culminated in their first meeting, a luncheon at the Plaza Hotel in New York, during the winter of 1926-1927 that would being a long and productive dialogue and friendship.This friendship, born of mutual respect and a love of argument, came under enormous strain in the years leading up the Second World War. Mumford, a liberal Democrat, viewed the rise of Nazism and Fascism anxiously???as he detailed in numerous articles and two full-length works: Men must Act (1939) and Faith For Living (1940) . Wright held a different view. His general distrust of empire compelled Wright to take a stand against American involvement in the escalating European conflict that struck many as merely isolationist???a charge that the architect roundly rejected.The final straw for Mumford had already arrived in a May 1941 issue which declared ""HITLER IS WINNING THIS WAR WITHOUT A NAVY. We are facing a new kind of warfare that the British Empire, owing to traditional faith in a great navy, cannot learn in time even if we furnished the equipment... Our frontier is no longer England, nor in any sense, it is European. Our frontier is our own shores.... "" An infuriated Mumford shot back to Wright: ""You dishonor all the generous impulses you once ennobled... Be silent! lest you bring upon yourself some greater shame."" To this, Wright retorted: ""There is no good Empire, there never was a just war."" True to his principles, Wright remained steadfastly opposed to the Second World War, and war in general. Escalating the feud, Mumford published his response to Wright in the interventionist journal, the New Leader. The two did not speak for over a decade. Wright, despite Mumford's hostility, continued sending along his ""Square-Papers,"" together with New Year's greetings and other pleasantries, all of which went unanswered by Mumford.The postwar period saw a thaw in their relationship, and Mumford remained a great admirer of Wright's work, despite their personal and philosophical differences. And Wright, despite Mumford's public shaming of the architect in print, continued sending New Year's greetings, unanswered by Mumford. However in the spring of 1951, Wright forwarded Mumford a copy of Sixty Years of Living Architecture, inscribed: ""In spite of all, your old F. Ll. W.""The gesture moved Mumford to respond and the two began the process of reconciliation, and the pair continued to correspond until Wright's death in 1959 (Wright, Mumford, et al., Frank Lloyd Wright & Lewis Mumford: Thirty Years of Correspondence, 2001, 22-26)."
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Last Found On: 2015-09-27           Check availability:      ABAA    

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