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Rudolph on his encounters with Frank Lloyd Wright


“I was a visiting critic at Princeton and for reasons that I don't remember, maybe I never knew, he was at Princeton and was brought into the drafting room where I was. We were introduced and he said, "And what are you doing here?" I said, "Well, I'm trying to teach a bit." He said, "Only prostitutes teach." I think that was the extent of that conversation. Another time he was at Philip Johnson's house, uninvited, unexpected, one Sunday morning. I happened to be a guest there. He and Philip put on a great show for us. He had never seen the Glass House and he told Philip he had gone all the way. He was very adamant about things he liked and didn't like. The Nadelman sculptures, which are papier maché, he didn't like. He took his cane and gave them a whack. Since it was only papier maché everybody present was concerned what was going to happen. He didn't like the exposed bulbs in the bathroom. Then out of the woods had appeared half a dozen people who were with him. Both he and Philip put on a great show because they now had enough of an audience to make it worthwhile, you understand. We went to the guesthouse and everybody was invited to take off their shoes, except the great man, because of the white rug. Mr. Wright was allowed to sit on the bed, which nobody else was allowed to do because of the bedspread. I think Wright had never had a rheostat in his hand before—Philip gave it to him, for the artificial light. The sun was shining very brightly—it was noon on a bright, as I remember it, spring day—and the curtains were all pulled closed and Wright was like a child with the rheostat—I genuinely don't think he'd ever had a rheostat in his hand—making light levels go up and down. Then he lectured everybody about I don't know what. At one point he told Philip that he thought people with street clothes should never be allowed in that room, he obviously liked the room. I think he liked the whole thing, although he couldn't quite say that. Wright said that nobody should wear street clothes in such a room. Either there should be special robes that you were given to wear in the room or everybody should be in the nude; there was nothing in between. Out of nowhere appeared an Indian red car. He told us that that was his color, as if nobody knew that. His parting words and I guess the last time I ever saw him, were that he was going to the opening of the Coliseum here in New York and that he would, of course, attract more attention than the building did. I'm sure that was true. I hope it was true anyway. That was it. I didn't know him well.”
Interview with Robert Bruegmann, 1986



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