Frank Lloyd Wright on Suicide Watch!

By Kevin Grace

Well, not really.  One of the great things about working with archives is finding a jewel now and then that casts a light on an event or situation, or illuminates more fully the character of someone famous.  The letter you see here provides one of those glimmering moments.  In the Archives & Rare Books Library, we hold the records and documents of the Contemporary Arts Center, a great institution and a prime exhibitor of modern art in the United States.  In fact, it was founded in 1939 as the Modern Art Society, and its exhibitions over the decades have featured groundbreaking and provocative art from Moholy-Nage and the Bauhaus movement to Jasper Johns and Jim Dine.  The controversial showing of Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs in 1990 still draws worldwide research and attention.

Sometimes, though, it is that one small item, that gem, that draws our attention.  In 1956, Allon Schoener, the director of the CAC, invited legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright to partake in an exhibition of his work.  Wright’s response is below.  To describe Wright as grouchy or temperamental is quite an understatement.  Certainly, Wright was quite aware of his standing in the world of architecture and the value of his time!

For more information about the Contemporary Arts Center holdings, contact the Archives & Rare Books Library at