Frank Lloyd Wright and Japan: The Role of Traditional Japanese Art and Architecture in the Work of Frank Lloyd Wright (英語) ハードカバー – 1993/9
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An account of Frank Lloyd Wright's relationship with Japan and its arts. It presents information on the nature and extent of Wright's formal and philosophical debt to Japanese art and architecture. Eight primary channels of influence are examined in detail, from Japanese prints to specific individuals and publications, and the evidence of their impact on Wright is illustrated through a mixture of textual and drawn analyses. Wright's friendships and connections with key artistic figures in Chicago in the 1880s and 1890s are revealed and the impact of Japanese culture in America at tha time is discussed. Philosophical influences on Wright and their effect on his creative inspiration are explored. Wright's use of specific Japanese sources is used to illustrate his general creative process of bringing together disparate formal and philosophical ideas into new synthesis, in order to clarify the particular nature of his artistic originality.
'This is an outstanding addition to the Wright literature. It is well illustrated throughout, with a wealth of new Japanese material as well as the author's own analytical diagrams, and comprehensively referenced. It deserves to be very widely read, not only by those interested in Wright, but as a study of the creative process and the fruitful interaction of two great cultures.' - The Architects' Journal --このテキストは、ペーパーバック版に関連付けられています。
Nute structures his book around the possible early influence upon Wright of four authors, members of the Boston orientalists. Wright may have learned of the abstruse meanings of "organic" art (part to whole) as practiced in the Orient from Fenollosa (1892), who was instrumental in introducing Japanese art to Americans. Fenollosa's associate, Dow (1899), explicated a theory of pattern drawing as the realization of permutations upon kernal line-ideas, rather like some of Wright's house plans. From Morse (1886), and the 1893 Chicago Fair's Japanese pavilion (Ho-o-den), he could have learned of modular design, the expression of natural materials, lack of clutter, and the flow of space in Japanese houses. And from Okakura (1893, 1906) could have come Wright's references to Lao Tzu, Taoism, and the key Void or space at the heart of buildings--as well as an Artist's rationale for the scandalous breakup of his first marriage.
Nute also explicates the geometric abstraction Wright imbibed from his enormous and early collection of Japanese woodblock prints. The only color pictures are nine of Hiroshige's lovely prints. This spare use of color reinforces Nute's argument regarding Fenollosa's and Dow's influence on Wright in the matter of "line" as his preferred mode of visualization. Although generously illustrated with old photographs and drawings, the many insights presented here will be more revealing the more familiar you already are with Wright's buildings and writings.
A reader looking for proof that Wright was derivative and an imitator will be disappointed. Nute does not find any smoking guns, but makes numerous convincing circumstantial arguments from a carefully calculated timeline that compares Wright's known movements and associates with publications, lectures, meetings, and buildings that Wright COULD have known. Strangely, it appears (from a lack of citation here) that no one knows what was in Wright's own library.
For example, what Wright was doing in his oriental pursuit of "elimination of the insignificant," was to subordinate other programmatic demands to the creation of works of art (for which others happened to be paying)--hence the irrrelevancy of owners' complaints about leaky roofs, low ceilings, or lack of closets. The difference, then, between an early Prairie and a late Usonian house Idea, is, I suspect, the change in his core Form-Idea of womens' roles from social ornament in the parlor to the director of the family from her now open kitchen workspace.
However correct Nute (or others he voluminously cites) may be in ferreting out possible sources for Wright's concepts, Nute does a clear and excellent job setting forth a significant part of the intellectual and aesthetic world of 1880-1910 in which Wright developed. Nute mentions, but does not disprove, alternative antecedents and sources in Arts and Crafts, the Aesthetic Movement, Pure Design, and other Euro-American design currents of the period. He does powerfully demonstrate that Wright abstracted and transformed any Japanese (or other) inspirations in Form (principally plan and section), and arguably transcended them in the Hegelian sense of revealing the Idea in his buildings.
Nute's book ends with some extremely useful and well-organized appendices, if you want to learn more of the fin-de-siecle period from which Wright emerged.
It's great that this book now is available in paperback, as it will prove inspiring to practitioners and students of architecture - as well as the general public. A must buy for everyone interested in the development of ideas who are searching for a fascinating story about creativity at its best!