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An example of Wright's architecture


Ken Burns unveils legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright

Web posted on: Monday, November 09, 1998 4:22:25 PM EST

From Correspondent Gloria Hillard

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- It has been eight years since documentary-maker Ken Burns took on the Civil War. Then he tackled the nation's grand ol' game in an encompassing series on the history of baseball.

Now, in his latest project, Burns shifts his storytelling to a legendary figure of the 20th century -- Frank Lloyd Wright.

Burns says Wright was an architect whose influence was felt far beyond his chosen craft.

"On one hand there was this magnificent legacy of great art, the greatest architecture that any American has ever created," Burns says. "And on the other hand, (there was) a rollercoaster of turbulent personal life filled with scandal."

As witnessed in "Frank Lloyd Wright," which airs on PBS on November 10-11 at 9 p.m. each night, Burns pursues subjects and people for answers to their lives.

"This is detective work," Burns says. "It's finding the best photograph and finding the home movie. It's finding the newsreel bite, and then once you have done that, piecing together the clues."

For Burns, clues may lead to the answer to the question that has been inspiring him for years -- who are we?

"I am interested in who we are as Americans," says Burns. "That's what all of my films are united in, by that pursuit."

It's a question that once had patriotic overtones, and has in recent years become more personal for Burns, and those clues are found in his own childhood.

"My mother died when I was 11," Burns says. "I watched that process from almost the beginning of my awareness -- three, four years old -- and had the occasion a couple of years ago to acknowledge to a friend that in some ways I thought that I was keeping her alive and he looked at me and said, 'What do you think that you do for a living? You wake the dead.'"

And Frank Lloyd Wright is the latest to come alive.

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