Fractal Geometry in the Late Work

of Frank Lloyd Wright

Leonard K. Eaton
Professor Emeritus, University of Michigan, USA

"During the incredibly long and fruitful career of Frank Lloyd Wright there are two constants: Nature and Geometry. That Nature was Wright's deity is well known. He summed up his attitude in the following language: I wish more life to creative rhythms of great Nature, Nature with a capital N as we spell God with a capital G. Why? Because Nature is all the body of God we mortals will ever see. Donald Hoffman traced this vein of thinking to the organic analogy in the works of Viollet-Le-Duc and noted that it was present in a variety of other thinkers as well. Recent scholarship has stressed the importance of Wright's feeling for geometry. Anthony Alofsin has pointed out the impact of Wright's contact with the geometric forms of the Vienna Secession. Referring to Wright's use of the rectilinear grid, Narciso Menocal writes that it "...was contingent on his conception of the universe as a geometric entity that architecture mirrors".

Whether or not Wright was aware of such concepts as the Golden Mean and the Fibonacci series is a moot point. Wright used nature as the basis of his geometrical abstraction. His objective was to conventionalize the geometry which he found in Nature, and his method was to adopt the abstract simplification which he found so well expressed in the Japanese print. Therefore, it is not too shocking perhaps that in this quest his work should foreshadow the new mathematics of nature first put forth by Benoit Mandelbrot: fractal geometry."

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