Wright first visited Japan in 1906 and returned in 1915 to design the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, one of his most famous commissions. He was profoundly struck by the beauty of Japanese art and of woodblock prints in particular, from which he derived support for his own ideas about a truly organic architecture:
Japanese art is a thoroughly structural art…the very beginning of any real knowledge of design…The word structure is here used to designate an organic form, an organization in a very definite manner of parts or elements into a larger unity – a vital whole.
For the architect, particularly, it is a quickening inspiration…owing to its essentially structural character and diverse materials and methods…
To any and all artists it must offer great encouragement, because it is so striking a proof of the fact…that to the true artist his limitations are always, if but understood and rightly wooed, his most faithful and serviceable friends.
To Wright, Japanese art showed the way forward for modern architecture and offered a solution for what he called “this maddening, perplexing problem : the right ordering of human life”. This problem has called forth the best efforts of modern architecture and design ever since Wright articulated it a century ago, and is the principle that unites the work exhibited here.