Frank Lloyd Wright - Monona Terrace

Frank Lloyd Wright - Monona Terrace


Frank Lloyd Wright

called Pedro E.

Guerrero, “Pete.” Pedro E. Guerrero called Frank Lloyd

Wright, “Mr. Wright.” One was the world’s foremost living

architect. The other was a former art student, age twentytwo,

from nearby Mesa, Arizona, who had arrived on The

Master’s doorstep at Taliesin West, just outside Scottsdale,

bearing a portfolio of photographs of semi-nudes, eggs fried

sunny side up and little girls with lovable dogs. From the

start the two got along famously.

The year was 1939. Wright was seventy-two, just fifty

years older than this latest recruit to the cause. But he saw

potential in Pedro Guerrero’s portfolio, promise in his

sensitivity to architecture and his ardent desire to make

pictures. Over the twenty years that followed, Pete was

given unparalleled access to Wright’s finished works and to

Pedro Guerrero’s classic photographs

are simultaneously documentary and evocative...Wright

himself appears in many guises

– guru, grand signeur, gadabout, good old

boy, grandpa – and yet whether he was on

guard for Guerrero’s portrait lens or taken

by surprise, he always seems conscious of

his role of great man and is playing it

(and relishing it) to the hilt.

Martin Filler

architecture critic House Beautiful

his private life, as the focal point of the Taliesin Fellowship.

In return Pete documented both the works and the life with

charm, modesty and fidelity. He became Wright’s shadow.

Inevitably, there were conflicts. Pete signed up to

fight in World War II knowing that Wright, who was an isolationist

and pacifist, was bound to disapprove. And periodically,

during their long, eventful collaboration, the two

men differed over aesthetic issues, ranging from the positioning

of the camera to the cropping of the finished prints.

Generally, Mr. Wright prevailed. But to the end they

remained committed friends, mentor and student, patron

and artist, subject and adroit portraitist.

Wright and his third wife, Olgivanna, had many gifts,

not the least of which was an ability to see beyond the

youthful facade, to see what might emerge out of the often

unformed human clay that sought entry into the Taliesin

Fellowship. For his part, as he matured, Pete Guerrero

arrived at an appreciation of the man behind the public

persona, the warm, very human, kind and,

yes, generous personage who drove a Lincoln

Zephyr, carried a cane and always had a quip

for the TV cameras.

If there is such a thing as organic photography,

then Guerrero practices it in these

historically invaluable images. The compositions

grow naturally out of their circumstances.

They have a simple elegance that belies the skill

that went into their making. The relationship between

Wright and his Rolleiflex-bearing Boswell is sophisticated

and knowing laced with wit, enhanced by self-knowledge.

If, as some art historians have suggested,

Frank Lloyd Wright was the last surviving exemplar of

the late nineteenth-century aesthetic movement,

then Pedro E. Guerrero was – and remains –

his faithful acolyte. At once willful and

subservient, independent and co-operative,

individually gifted and deferential to Wright’s

genius, he played an invaluable role in the reemergence

of Frank Lloyd Wright’s energy,

reputation and talent during the glorious final

act of his unparalleled architectural career.

James Auer

art critic Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


The Monona Terrace project began nearly sixty years

ago when Frank Lloyd Wright first proposed plans for a

dream civic center in downtown Madison. His “longawaited

dream of a wedding between the city and beautiful

Lake Monona” was finally realized when Monona

Terrace Community and Convention Center opened in 1997.

The facility serves as a community gathering place,

tourism destination, and a catalyst for economic activity

for the city, county and state. Monona Terrace is proud

to present this permanent exhibition of the photography

of Pedro E. Guerrero.

“This view over the reflecting pool is one of

the most widely used of my images of Taliesin

West. It was the welcoming mural for the

Museum of Modern Art retrospective of

Mr. Wright’s work in 1941.” (#36)


“I composed this photograph while

waiting for Mr. Wright to decide

whether or not he was going to pose

for a portrait. I was intrigued by

the light and different patterns

and textures. I wanted to capture

the atmosphere that Mr. Wright sur-

rounded himself with when he was


– Pedro E. Guerrero (#6)

“Shortly after Mr. Wright died in 1959 the architec-

ture magazines feverishly began publishing stories on

his work. Architectural Forum used a number of my

photographs to accompany articles on Mr. Wright and

sent me to Bethesda, Maryland, to photograph the

house of Robert Llewelyn Wright, his son.” (#47)

Exhibition photographs copyright ©1985 Pedro E. Guerrero.

“This has always been my favorite room in all the world.

Mr. Wright conceived of this room as being experienced

in a sitting position, so my photograph had to reflect

that. And I tried to light the room with indirect lighting to

simulate natural light. Mr. Wright said he could always

recognize my photographs because of this.” (#9)

“Mr. Wright asked me to come along to visit the Reisley

House under construction in Westchester County, New York.

He said he didn’t always design a fireplace grate at the same

time as the house, because he didn’t want it to appear too

costly for the client. So when he visited the Reisley’s he sat

down on the spot and designed the grate.” (#25)

“It snowed all night and when I woke up on this

November morning in 1940, the entire countryside was

blanketed in white. Being an Arizona native, this was

the first snow I had ever experienced. I was so excited

that I just threw my coat over my pajamas, grabbed

my camera and began taking photographs.” (#11)

“This is a view of Taliesin West that is no longer

possible to photograph. The canvas flaps which were

lowered to allow the desert breezes to pass through

have been eliminated and replaced with glass and

plastic which can not be opened.” (#35)

This exhibition was organized by the

Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters

and has been generously supported by:

The Overture Foundation


(608) 261-4000 • TTY (608) 261-4150


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