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Rudolph Schindler (1887-1953)

Rudolph Schindler, Via USModernist: Schindler was born to a middle class family in Vienna, Austria. He attended the Imperial and Royal High School from 1899 to 1906 then enrolled in the Wagnersschule of Vienna Polytechnic University, graduating in 1911 with a degree in architecture. Schindler worked for Hans and Theodore Mayer from 1911 to 1914. While at a concert in Vienna, he met future colleague Richard Neutra.

Encouraged by fellow Austrian architect Adolph Loos, Rudolph Schindler moved to Chicago in 1914 to work for Ottenheimer Stern and Reichert. In 1916, he delivered 12 elaborate lectures at the Church School of Design in Chicago which became known as the Schindler Program, his central design philosophy.

Schindler always wanted to work for Frank Lloyd Wright and in late 1918 Wright hired him. After Wright obtained the commission for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, a major project that involved Wright being in Japan for several years, Schindler was promoted to run Wright’s American operations out of the Oak Park IL studio.

In 1919, Schindler married Pauline Gibling (1893-1977) and in 1920 Wright sent Schindler west to Los Angeles to work on the Aline Barnsdall House. Beyond his job for Wright, Schindler started his own independent practice in 1922. Schindler and Wright argued frequently and eventually Schindler quit.

He became a huge success in Los Angeles. Known as Michael, never Mike, he and Pauline hosted many events at their Kings Road house, itself a model of architectural brilliance (and still there, you can visit). The Schindlers hung out with the era’s celebrities in art, sculpture, design, and dance. They had one son, Mark, in 1922.

Schindler had a wild nature and engaged a number of affairs, including with the wife of his client Phillip Lovell, and the couple divorced in the 1930s but continued to live separately in the King’s Road house. After Schindler’s death, Pauline Schindler stayed there until her own death in 1977. Schindler’s great-grandson Guillaume was as of 2017 a docent at the King’s Road house.

Richard Neutra worked for Wright in 1924 at Taliesin East but left after a few months to work in California with Schindler. Neutra and his wife lived at King’s Road with Schindlers for several years. Their firm was called Schindler and Neutra. Philip Johnson famously rejected Schindler for the 1932 exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art thinking Schindler was outside the International Style. Schindler responded by rejecting the categorizing of his designs as part of any style. Schindler and Neutra’s relationship began to unravel and the Neutras moved out. They rarely interacted after that. When Neutra had a heart attack in 1953, he found himself in the same Cedars Sinai hospital room as Schindler who was dying of cancer. They made peace before Schindler died.

R.M. Schindler, Architect

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