Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan

The focus of the 2021 East Asia in the Upper Midwest teacher program was the influence of Japanese art on Frank Lloyd Wright. Wright is a towering figure in American architecture and one of Wisconsin’s most famous cultural exports. However, his relationship with Japan and Japanese art is frequently overlooked.

Educators explored how Wright was caught up in the vogue for all things Japan in the late 19th century, how he developed a deep interest in Japanese art, and how Japanese architecture and art, particularly the Japanese print, were key ingredients in Wright’s innovative and unique style. Themes of “organic form” and cultural appropriation were also explored.

In support of the 2021 East Asia in the Upper Midwest teacher program, a selection of Japanese color woodcuts previously owned by Frank Lloyd Wright will be on view at the Chazen Museum of Art from July 6 through the end of 2021. The selection of thirteen prints mainly feature landscape views by Utagawa Hiroshige, an artist whose compositions especially interested Wright. Also included is an impression of Katsushika Hokusai’s famous print The Great Wave. To experience these color woodcuts in person, visit the Asian galleries on the third floor of the museum’s Chazen building. Members of the Visitor Services team at the front desk can provide directions. For information about the Chazen’s location and open hours, visit https://chazen.wisc.edu/visit/.

Cover of the book The Japanese Print by Frank Lloyd Wright

Curriculum Guide

The curriculum guide for the Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan Teaching Initiative is available for free as a PDF here.

The guide covers the following topics: Wright’s place in American culture, Japanism, Wright’s windows in Japan, organic form, learning from the “other,” and the wider lessons of Wright’s relationship with Japan.

Sessions With Scholars

Lesson Plans

Coming October 2021