"Winter (Hohe Warte in Vienna)," 1902, Carl Moll

Moll made a series of woodcuts of the Hohe Warte, a hilly section of Döblin, Vienna’s 19th district, where he and a group of Secessionists had settled in houses designed by Josef Hoffmann.

"Young Hounds," 1907, Walther Klemm

In the work of Walther Klemm, Wright discovered a direct emulation of Japanese woodblock printing techniques.

"Autumn Stillness in Waxenstein," n.d., Karl Reiser

Karl Reiser depicts Waxenstein, a mountain in Bavaria, an area Wright visited in the summer of 1910.

Farmhouse in Ober Pinggau," n.d., Josef Stoitzner

This print shows a view of vernacular architecture, one of the few examples in Wright’s collection.

"Villa in Grunewald," after 1901, Walter Leistikow

Walter Leistikow helped to found the Berlin Secession, acting as the movement’s "heart and soul." He considered this print, with a villa lit in the middle ground surrounded by dark trees, water, and sky, "one of his most important pictures."

"Slender Trees," August 17, 1910, Hans von Volkmann

The focus of this print is three slender trees, as the title suggests. The print is signed 17 August 1910, the date after which Wright bought the piece.

"The Sunny Side," 1907, Gustav Bechler

Die Sonnenseite, or "Sunny Side," forms a part of Wright’s series of winter scenes that demonstrate impressive technical skill.

"Mecklenburg Lake, n.d., Carl Kayser-Eichberg

In 1910, when Wright bought this print of a landscape picturing rolling hills and a lake in Saxony on the south side of Leipzig, Carl Kayser-Eichberg won a gold medal in the annual Berlin exhibition.

"Mecklenburg Lake, n.d., Carl Kayser-Eichberg

This print of a small village in the Hessian hillside provides another example of vernacular architecture in a natural setting.

Co.Design

Prints Offer A Glimpse Into Frank Lloyd Wright's Private World

While on a European trip with his mistress, the American master assembled a collection of Secessionist prints. Even more surprising, he didn’t have great taste.

Frank Lloyd Wright is the most famous (if not prolific) architect of the modern era. Even the design-illiterate can spout some facts about the preeminent American master: He was a proponent of the Prairie School and “organic architecture”--buildings that were in harmony with their environment, as exemplified by his tour de force, Fallingwater. But here’s something that’s typically left out of the generic historical biography: Wright was also an avid collector of not just Japanese prints (he acknowledged Japan’s influence on his work) but a series of turn-of-the-century German and Austrian prints, long mothballed in the archives of Taliesin West in Arizona. That collection is the focus of Frank Lloyd Wright: Art Collector (University of Texas Press), a new academic treatise by Anthony Alofsin, who speculates that the architect, so American in his democratic ideals, was influenced by the Vienna and Berlin Secessionists.

["Autumn Stillness in Waxenstein" by Karl Reiser]

Wright amassed the prints during a trip through Europe with his lover, Mamah Borthwick Cheney in 1909–10. But the journey wasn’t all romance; according to Alofsin, Wright hoped to accomplish three aims: revive his career, which was momentarily flagging; publish his work with the German imprint Wasmuth Verlag; and escape his wife, who refused to grant him a divorce. While in Vienna, Wright met Josef Hoffmann and possibly visited the designer’s Wiener Werstatte showrooms and Kunstschau building, which features the type of ancient motifs that Wright himself later used. And in Austria and Germany, the American picked up prints by 22 artists, eight of which were members of or exhibited with the Vienna Secession, which had already begun to peter out.

["Villa in Grunewald" by Walter Leistikow]

In other words, these prints don’t represent the stirrings of Modernism but the tail end of its precursor. As Alofsin writes, “If we compare him to the proponents of modern art, the taste of the forty-three-year-old American appears relatively conservative, and he showed neither awareness nor interest in the emerging avant-garde, particularly expressionists who were exploring graphic media.” Wright instead was drawn to sentimental, pastoral landscapes--and not even the very best examples of their kind. Nevertheless, Alofsin writes, they’re still of value to Wright-philes: “[The] collection provides a unique confirmation that Wright, the champion of a democratic American architecture, had the sensitivity to embrace what he saw as a fresh aesthetic rooted in turn-of-the-century Europe. His artists were at the end of their époque. Wright assimilated into a broader aesthetic sensibility what they represented, and moved on.” Be grateful that he did.

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1 Comments

  • gerbrandcaspers

    Interesting stuff and nice posting but the title of the second picture isn't accurate