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Milwaukee Art Museum celebrates 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday this summer
Wasmuth Portfolio considered the most significant collection of architect’s early work


By TimeOut Staff

July 27, 2017

 
MILWAUKEE - This summer, the Milwaukee Art Museum joins prominent institutions across the country in celebrating the 150th anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birthday.

“Frank Lloyd Wright: Buildings for the Prairie” is on view July 28 through Oct. 15 and presents a selection of the renowned architect’s designs from the Wasmuth Portfolio alongside related pieces of his furniture, metal work and stained glass.  The Wasmuth Portfolio is considered the most significant collection of Wright’s early work, showcasing the breadth and beauty of his output.

“We are honored to celebrate this American icon from Wisconsin,” said Brandon Ruud, Abert family curator of American art at the Milwaukee Art Museum. “The portfolio emerged at a critical moment for Wright, at a time when he was at a professional crossroads. It lends unique insight into his early development and the evolution of the Prairie School of architecture.”

Although highly regarded as one of the best American architects of his generation, by 1909 Wright had reached a professional impasse. Spurred by his inability to gain commercial commissions and his scandalous affair with a former client, Wright left for Italy and Germany in 1910.

In Florence, Wright found inspiration in his architectural surroundings, and there he worked on illustrations and text for a monograph on his work to be published by the Berlin firm of Ernst Wasmuth. The Wasmuth Portfoliointroduced the architect’s work to his European contemporaries and is largely credited with profoundly influencing the direction of 20th-century architecture. 

Collectors and museums alike prize the portfolio for its historic importance and for the beauty of the images.
In the introduction to the collection, Wright described his inspiration for these “buildings for the prairie,” as the “gently rolling or level prairies of the Middle West.” The portfolio introduced the architect’s work to his European contemporaries and is largely credited with profoundly influencing the direction of 20th-century architecture.

A digital component to the exhibition will allow visitors to explore in greater depth the illustrations and text of the Wasmuth Portfolio.

The exhibition also includes examples of furniture, metalwork and stained-glass from some of the master’s most early and iconic residential designs, including the Avery Coonley House, the Darwin D. Martin House, and his own Oak Park, Ill., home and studio.

Many on loan from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, these decorative arts complement drawings and studies from the museum’s exceptional Wright and George Mann Niedecken Archives, also on view in the exhibition.

The exhibition will be on view in the museum’s Bradley Family Gallery.