The Formation of the Japanese Print Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School
Ladies taking in the 1908 Japanese print exhibition designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Courtesy of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust MEMBERS-ONLY program
A Conversation with the CuratorsJanice Katz, Roger L. Weston Associate Curator of Japanese Art
Ellen Roberts, Associate Curator, Department of American Art
Wednesday, October 10
Meet in the Japanese Print Gallery 107
Art Institute of Chicago
111 S. Michigan Ave, Chicago
As an architect, art dealer, and designer, Frank Lloyd Wright’s interest in Japan is well known. In 1893, his visits to Japan’s national pavilion at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition had a lasting effect on the young architect. He first went to Japan in 1905, and returned from the trip with a large selection of prints, many of which he intended to sell. Later, he resided in Japan while working on Tokyo’s Imperial Hotel, giving him the chance to deepen his appreciation of Japanese nature and culture as seen in woodblock prints. While he did not return to Japan after the hotel’s completion in 1922, he continued to collect and sell prints until his death in 1959.
Frank Lloyd Wright had lent Japanese prints to the Art Institute consistently, but his most important exhibition was undoubtedly a large show of prints he mounted at the museum in 1908 with an installation of specially-designed frames and furniture. For the first time in Chicago, visitors were treated to a staggering array of prints from a variety of artists and time periods. The majority of the works on view were lent by Frank Lloyd Wright himself.
Clarence Buckingham, whose prints form the core of the Japanese print collection at the museum, purchased several prints from Frank Lloyd Wright for his personal collection in 1911. For this sale, and throughout Buckingham's years as a collector, he sought the advice of fellow collector and art consultant Frederick Gookin who held the position as curator of Japanese art until 1936.
This exhibition is comprised of Japanese prints originally purchased from Frank Lloyd Wright, photos of the 1908 exhibition, as well as drawings by Wright and other members of the Prairie School, most notably Wright’s chief assistant Marion Mahony Griffin.