The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is unearthing a rarely seen original photography collection from one of the most well-known architectural photographers of all time, Pedro E. Guerrero, at Taliesin West from Oct. 18 through Nov. 14.
The collection is a work of 14 original, signed photographs taken by Guerrero at Taliesin West between 1940s and 1950s when he served as Wright’s official photographer. The prints will be on display in situ, meaning within the places they were taken, at Wright’s winter home in Scottsdale. Taliesin West is a National Historic Landmark nestled in the desert foothills of the McDowell Mountains and this year celebrates its 80th anniversary.
"I'm delighted that Pedro's work will be shown at Taliesin West, the place he really became a photographer back in 1939 when Wright hired him on the spot to document the work there. He was fresh out of art school and had never seen anything like it. He said he approached it as if it were sculpture and that seemed to please Frank Lloyd Wright," said Dixie Guerrero, Guerrero’s widow.
Pedro E. Guerrero was one of the country’s most distinguished architectural photographers of his time, known best for his work with Wright, Alexander Calder and Louise Nevelson. He was 22 in 1939 when he drove from his home in Mesa, Ariz. to a new architecture school housed in a low-slung complex of buildings to inquire about a job and show his portfolio to the head architect. That architect was Frank Lloyd Wright who took an amused look at his portfolio of photographs and hired him to document his work. Thus, began a 20-year friendship and the result produced some of the most powerful photographs ever taken of Wright and his work.
“Wright’s vision for Taliesin West was of a simple, but sophisticated winter camp for his family and the Taliesin Fellowship. It was both primitive and eloquent, made up of angles and patterns created by stone, wood, and canvas and brought to life by light and shadow,” said Margo Stipe, the Foundation’s curator of collections. “Pedro Guerrero was here when both he and Taliesin West were very young and he said he found photographing the site both challenging and enchanting. At least some of that enchantment is clearly seen in these wonderful photographs that capture the rhythm and the rugged romanticism of these spaces and the landscape in the early years.”
In celebration of the showing, a lecture by Dr. Emily Bills will take place the night before the collection’s unveiling about the significance of Guerrero’s work on October 17 from 7 to 8 p.m. with general admission tickets priced at $15 per person ($10 for members).
Notable Arizona photographer Andrew Pielage will also host “Photographing Wright,” a two-day photography seminar at Taliesin West from Oct. 26 through Oct. 28. Participants will learn the tools needed to best utilize a camera and apply creative approaches to composition, image framing and the challenges of light and shadow, including capturing sunrise and sunset. Session fees are $700 per person ($630 for members) and cover all materials and lodging.
“For me, Guerrero’s iconic, timeless images are where it all began. The pairing of Wright and Guerrero amplified Wright’s reach and captured his buildings in ways that are still emulated today,” Pielage said. “With Guerrero’s images, we can gain insight into how Wright wanted us to view these spaces and how we can best portray them.”
The Guerrero collection can be viewed by purchasing tickets to any Taliesin West tour during the limited-time showing dates. Tour prices start from $35 for adults, $25 for students and $19 for youth.