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Influence of Japanese Architecture on Frank Lloyd Wright

Throughout his life Frank Lloyd Wright (1869-1959) denied that Japanese architecture had any influence on his own work. He did, however, allow that Japanese prints had exerted an important influence on him. Curiously, Wright has often been taken at his word on this subject, even though there is a great deal of evidence that shows he was, for whatever reason, creating a personal legend in which his creativity owed very little to one of its major sources. The visual evidence of the work itself, scholarly digging into possible influences, and even the nature of the Japanese prints that were admitted to be an influence all demonstrate that Wright was protesting too much. Japanese architecture, whether it was seen in photographs, in person, in the prints, or even seen through the eyes of a mentor, was a major influence on Wright's creation of his theory of organic architecture and on the buildings he designed. To see and understand this influence could not in any way be construed as lessening Wright's own achievement--no matter what he might have thought.

Even the tone of Wright's protestations on the subject makes his claims difficult to accept. In an article built around some of his "recollections" from the period 1893-1920, Wright wrote sarcastically, "No, my dear Mrs. Gablemore, Mrs. Plasterbilt, and especially, now, Miss Flattop, nothing from 'Japan' has helped at all, except the marvel of Japanese color prints" (qtd. in Manson 37). This was the direct attack. In another essay, entitled "Some Aspects of the Past and Present of Architecture" (1937), Wright mentions Japan only three times and then only in lists with other nations. He writes individually, if superficially, about Persian, Chinese, Mayan, Byzantine, and many other architectures. But of Japanese architecture the only thing he says is that its "more developed buildings", along with those of Persia and China, "naturally belonged to the sunlit landscape in which t...

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Influence of Japanese Architecture on Frank Lloyd Wright. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 19:31, June 29, 2016, from