Becoming Bucky Fuller
Buckminster Fuller's fame reached its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, when his visionary experiments struck a chord with the counterculture and his charismatic personality provided the media with a good story—that of a genius who could play the role of artist, scientist, and entrepreneur all at once. In Becoming Bucky Fuller, Loretta Lorance shows that Fuller's career did not begin with the lofty goals hailed by his admirers, and that, in fact, Fuller's image as guru and prophet was as carefully constructed as a geodesic dome.
Fuller (1895-1983) determined early on how the story of his life in the 1920s and 1930s should be portrayed. But, drawing on a close reading of Fuller's personal papers (in particular, the multivolume scrapbook, Chronofile), Lorance looks at Fuller's first independent project, the Dymaxion House, and finds that what really happened differs from the authorized version. According to Fuller himself and most secondary sources, after a series of personal crises in the 1920s—including the death of his young daughter, thoughts of suicide, and a "year of silence" during which he pondered his purpose in life—Fuller resolved to devote himself to the betterment of society by offering the public economical, efficient, modern manufactured housing. But the private papers tell a different story; one of his initial motivations for designing the Dymaxion House was simply to make money from its manufacture. When that didn't work, Fuller began to emphasize its possibilities rather than its practicalities. By the mid-1930s, Lorance shows, Fuller the public figure had gone from being an entrepreneur with a product to being a visionary with an idea. He had become Bucky Fuller.
About the Author
Loretta Lorance is an architectural historian. She teaches in the School of Visual Arts in New York City.
"Becoming Bucky Fuller is an intellectual experiment singular enough to have pleased the prodigious polymath himself. By refusing the biographical conventions Fuller forged into his own life story, Loretta Lorance demonstrates how in the late 1920s he formulated not only the Dymaxion House, but his own public persona as well. Based on close readings of deep archival research, Becoming Bucky Fuller makes clear that one more item must be added to the long list of Fuller's inventions: himself."
Sandy Isenstadt, History of Art, Yale University
"Historians of architecture and material culture have never quite known what to do with the figure of Buckminster Fuller. In her careful new study, Lorance takes on his first successful inventionBucky himself. Becoming Bucky Fuller offers important insights into the formation of this compelling persona: an American hero of mid-twentieth-century counter-culture."
Andrew Leach, School of Geography, Planning, and Architecture, University of Queensland, Australia, and author of Tafuri: Choosing History
"Everything in this book is illuminating. As Loretta Lorance reveals, long before Bucky Fuller became a 'visionary,' his life struggles in the hard-knocks business world of the 1920s shaped both his autobiography and his brilliant contributions to American modernism."
Carol Willis, Director, The Skyscraper Museum