Friday, June 12, 2009

Arty Farty Friday ~ Frank Lloyd Wright & Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Two famous architects who were also interior designers and artists, born on opposite sides of the North Atlantic Ocean, exactly a year apart, with Sun in Gemini.


We saw one of Frank Lloyd Wright's buildings last weekend when we visited Bartlesville in NE Oklahoma. There stands FLW's only skyscraper, The Price Tower - and beautiful it is too! Very Art Deco. Deliberately laced with copper decoration, so that, over time, it would turn to a beautiful dark green. I took this photograph:

Wright nicknamed the Price Tower, which was built on the Oklahoma prairie, "the tree that escaped the crowded forest," referring not only to the building's construction, but also to the origins of its design. The Price Tower is supported by a central "trunk" of four elevator shafts which are anchored in place by a deep central foundation, as a tree is by its taproot. The nineteen floors of the building are cantilevered from this central core, like the branches of a tree. (Wikipedia)

The Price Tower now houses a museum, hotel and bar in the heart of downtown Bartlesville.

More of his architectural designs:

A Greek Orthodox Church in Wisconsin

The Guggenheim, New York

Fallingwater - house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright

Frank Lloyd Wright born in Richland Center, Wisconsin on 8 June 1867 at 8pm (Astrotheme).

What am I looking for in the natal chart of an architect? As well as some strong Venus (artistry), I expect to see some prominent Saturn. Saturn relates to structure and engineering, mathematics - all necessary elements in architectural design.

If Astrotheme's given time of birth is correct Neptune (creativity, imagination) was very close to midheaven (the career area of the chart). Venus, planet of the arts, conjunct Pluto (power and passion) is in 10th house of career and public status.
Saturn (structure, engineering) is exactly opposing Venus/Pluto, from Scorpio (ruled by Pluto) creating a dynamic push-pull energy across the chart. Moon in detail- oriented Virgo brings in a necessary dedication to accuracy.

Overall, this natal chart is well-balanced, element-wise. I note a Yod (Finger of Fate) linking the sextile between Sun and Neptune, via 2 quincunx aspects to.....Saturn. So we have Saturn opposing Venus and Pluto and forming the apex of this Yod, channelling energy from Sun (self) and Neptune (creativity) via Saturn (structure, engineering, mathematics). Et voila - an architect!

"The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization"
(Frank Lloyd Wright)


This is a favourite artist of mine. Back in the UK I had framed posters and prints of his work around my bedroom walls. He was born exactly a year after Frank Lloyd Wright.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh had many and diverse outlets for his talents: watercolours, posters, furniture design, architecture, interior design. Such diversity is fitting for a Sun Gemini. While Frank Lloyd Wright is most famous for his dramatic architectural work, the talent of Charles Rennie Mackintosh shines most brightly from his exqusite interior design and artwork. He did design houses, and buildings such as the Glasgow School of Art, notable in their own way, and more traditional in design and proportion than those of his Gemini contemporary across the Atlantic.

Mackintosh blended the sinuous organic style of Art Nouveau and and the simplicity of Japanese form to create something quite unique. His architecture did remain truer to Scottish tradition, his interiors didn't. Sadly, his talent didn't bring the accolades he deserved in his own lifetime. In "The Mackintosh Style" by Elizabeth Wilhide the author remarks that:

"Sheer bad luck, professional setbacks and misunderstanding conspired to provide Mackintosh with what has been described as 'a tragically small range of opportunities'.

A proud and difficult temperament only made matters worse and gave a sad inevitability to his decline. What began so brilliantly ended in self-imposed exile, near-penury and almost critical eclipse."

Mackintosh died of cancer at age 60.

It is poignant and ironic to note that Charles Rennie Mackintosh's furniture and artwork now sell for millions of pounds/dollars, yet at the time of his death his entire estate, which comprised the contents of two studios, was assessed at 88 pounds ($136.40). Mackintosh buildings were being demolished as late as mid-20th century, whereas today they are prized for the treasures they truly are.

House for an Art Lover

Glasgow School of Art

Born in Glasgow, Scotland UK, on 7 June 1868 - no time known- chart below set for 12 noon.

His Uranus/Mercury conjunction reflects the avant garde styles he presented to what must have been a sometimes astonished public. His designs were fresh and new, like nothing seen before in traditional Scottish circles. I've often thought that he was born at least a couple of decades before his time. I guess having Uranus so close to a very personal planet like Mercury can do that to a person!

Sun is alone in Gemini. Mercury/Uranus and Venus lie in sensitive Cancer. A serious Capricorn Moon would have been somewhere between 6 and 18 degrees.

The probable (can't be sure without time of birth) opposition between Uranus/Mercury in Cancer and Moon in Capricorn suggests an internal struggle which could have made his temperament seem "difficult". The Mars/Pluto conjunction in Fixed sign Taurus could also reflect a somewhat stubborn or awkward nature. Sun is tightly sextile (helpful aspect) Neptune in Aries (creativity), but Jupiter is square (challenging) Mercury/Uranus - is this a possible source of his lack of lucky breaks and opportunity?

There's a loose Grand Trine linking Jupiter in Aries to Saturn in Sagittarius to Venus in the last degrees of Cancer. Jupiter, Venus and Saturn are three helpful planets for an artist/architect to have within a linked circuit - technically this is a Fire Grand Trine indicating a go-getter, initiator, but Venus has slipped just off the Leo leg, and lies still in Cancer. Maybe a symbolic indication of the slipping away of the fame to which he was justly due, within his lifetime.
"There is hope in honest error - none in the icy perfections of the stylist." (Charles Rennie Mackintosh)


The Next President of the United States said...

I've seen four of Frank Lloyd Wright's structures over the years and one of his domes sits on the main drag in Carbondale, Ill. It was once used as a classroom by Southern Illinois University's architectural department. Lunched beside it often while working at a bookstore and sometimes going to school at SIU. The kicker is: I never had a camera with me when visiting any of the F.L. Wright buildings, including the Price Building, and have no shots of that dome in Carbondale. DUH!!!

anthonynorth said...

Wright's home is straight out of Tracy Island in Thunderbirds :-)
We've just had another architectural storm over here with Prince Charles - letters to the financiers of one of Lord Rogers' developments have told him to go back and redesign.

Shawn Carson said...

Very interesting article, Twilight!
You seem to be attracted to people with hard angles to Jupiter, as I have noticed that a lot of your subjects share these aspects. That shouldn't be too surprising considering the amount of traveling you have done in your life. I would almost guess that you have a similar aspect in your own chart.
The shared birthdays of these two architects makes for a fun compare/ contrast. For example, the yod to Saturn that you pointed out as helpful to Wright had moved out of range by the time Mackintosh was born a year later, even though they shared the Sun / Neptune sextile. Maybe this is reflected in the different flavors of their work. Wright's designs seem to be more practical or functional than Mackintosh, and have not been destroyed.
In terms of the difference in their popular appeal during their lifetimes, Wright has Uranus in a favorable position to his Moon / Jupiter opposition, showing that his originality enjoyed more popular appeal, while Mackintosh probably had the t-square between Moon /Jupiter / Uranus.

Twilight said...

TNPOTUS ~~ I noticed, in searching around for information, that Illinois has more examples of FLW's work than any other state.
It's nice that NY and Washington didn't get all the goodies!

Pity you didn't have your Brownie with you in those days. :-)

Twilight said...

AN ~~~ Is it? Ah - I didn't realise that. :-)

Oh dear - so Prince Chuck is getting antsy again? LOL! Good for him.

Twilight said...

Shawn ~~~ Hmmmm you've given me more to chew on there. :-)

Good points about the Yod being out of range for Mackintosh's chart. I like the astrological points you make about the comparative success/popularity of the two men. I think we have to take into consideration their respective locations too. the USA, and its "American Dream" offered far more opportunity than did Scotland and the UK in general. Mackintosh moved to France for a while too, but even there the type of opportunity rampant in the US just didn't exist.

Being in the right place at the right time - it often comes down to just that, I guess.

Interesting point about Jupiter and me. My natal Jupiter in Pisces is exactly (within a few minutes) semi-sextile my Sun in Aquarius. The hard aspects to it are not particularly hard - semisquare to Mercury is closest.

MrsPevot said...

FYI, Frank Lloyd Wright never lived at Fallingwater. His home was Taliesin, in Spring Green Wisconsin, from 1911 until his death. In the 30's he built a winter home in Scottsdale, AZ called 'Taliesin West.'
Interesting the parallels between Wright and MacIntosh, though: like twins separated at birth, in terms of their designs, until MacIntosh's untimely death in the 1920's. One wonders what would have happened if he had lived as long as Wright.

Twilight said...

Mrs Pevot ~~ Hi! And many thanks for pointing out my mistake! I probably saw a photograph captioned "FLW's house" and misunderstood. :-)

I've wondered about Mackintosh myself - would he have found more overall acceptance and success (like FLW) had he lived longer?
You know, I think he was simply born before his time - for his particular environment. Scotland (and Britain) had to play catch-up in the years after his death.