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Frank Lloyd Wright

A black-and-white photo of Wright as an older man wearing a light-colored suit and sitting at a drafting table, sketches of his work stands behind him.
Frank Lloyd Wright in his office at Taliesin, Spring Green, Wisconsin, 1953. Herbert and Katherine Jacobs Residence and Frank Lloyd Wright Records, Ryerson and Burnham Archives.
Also known as
Frank L. Wright, F. L. Wright
Date of birth
Date of death

One of the most prominent architects of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright sought to create a harmonious integration of architectural space—exteriors, interiors, and furnishings—with nature and urban landscapes. This ideal, which he termed “Organic Architecture,” was deeply influenced by the writing and design principles of architect Louis Sullivan, an important mentor during his years as a draftsman in the Chicago firm of Adler & Sullivan beginning in 1888. 

After opening a studio at his home in suburban Oak Park, Illinois, in 1898, Wright began building in the “Prairie School” style, an approach pioneered by Wright and a group of progressive Chicago architects who often exhibited drawings at the Art Institute of Chicago through the Chicago Architectural Club. Wright’s Prairie houses emulated the flat landscape of the Midwest through low-slung, horizontal lines and rambling, open spaces and privileged natural materials to create a new vision for the American middle class. Wright designed more than 1,000 projects over the course of a nearly seven-decade career that included an innovative use of materials, technologies, and new forms of urbanism. He worked at nearly every scale including furniture, modern houses, hotels, museums, skyscrapers, and religious buildings like the 1908 Unity Temple in Oak Park, Illinois, one of eight buildings by Wright that have been designated as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

The Art Institute holds a broad collection of Wright’s architectural drawings, furniture, stained glass, textiles, and publications as well as a large group of Japanese prints, especially ukiyo-e, that he collected and sold as a dealer. Wright first saw Japanese art and architecture at the Phoenix Palace (Hooden) at the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago, and Japan remained an important influence on designs throughout his career. Japanese prints from Wright’s collection have been shown in many exhibitions at the Art Institute, both in his own lifetime and in recent years, such as The Formation of the Japanese Print Collection at the Art Institute of Chicago: Frank Lloyd Wright and the Prairie School in 2017.

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