"A Japanese artist grasps form always by reaching underneath for its geometry. No matter how informal, vague, evanescent, the subject he is treating may seem to be, he recognizes and acknowledges geometry is its aesthetic skeleton; that is to say—not its structural skeleton alone but—by virtue of what we have termed the symbolic spell-power—it is also the suggestive soul of his work."
"The first and supreme principle of Japanese esthetics consists in a stringent simplification by elimination of the insignificant and the consequent emphasis on reality…Always we find the one line, the one arrangement that will exactly serve…that inner harmony which penetrates the outward form and is its determining character...."
"The most important fact to realize ... is that, with all its informal grace, Japanese art is a thoroughly structural art…It is always, whatever else it is or is not, structural.""
"If Japanese prints were to be deducted from my education I don’t know what direction the whole might have taken. The gospel of elimination preached by the print came home to me in architecture."
Frank Lloyd Wright
The celebrated architect Frank Lloyd Wright was exposed to Japanese art by Joseph Lyman Silsbee, his first employer in Chicago in 1887. He was already an established collector when he made his first visit to Japan in 1905, where he bought hundreds of woodblock prints. The following year, at the Art Institute of Chicago, he organised the first ever retrospective exhibition of prints by Utagawa Hiroshige (catalogue). In 1908 Wright participated in a second larger exhibition of Japanese prints from his own collection presented with those from other major collectors. In 1912 he published The Japanese Print: An Interpretation, a treatise on Japanese aesthetics. He held regular 'print-viewing parties' with his friends, colleagues and students.
Wright was a dealer in Japanese prints as well as a collector. Between 1918 and 1922 he sold nearly four hundred prints to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and it is estimated that at least 20 000 prints found their way into American collections via Frank Lloyd Wright. He still had 6,000 prints in his own collection at the time of his death in 1959.
Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan
A Quickening Inspiration: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Japanese Print
Frank Lloyd Wright -- The Woodblock Print Collector