• Kyodo

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An art show featuring American architectural giant Frank Lloyd Wright’s little-known passion for Japanese woodblock prints is on at the Japan Society in New York.

The show, “Frank Lloyd Wright and the Art of Japan: The Architect’s Other Passion,” documents Wright’s interest in Japanese art and culture and its influence on the architect.

While Wright’s love for Japanese art developed in the 1890s, he began acquiring a large number of prints by woodblock print masters from the time he first visited Japan in 1905.

Wright’s passion for ukiyo-e became so intense that he acquired 1,200 prints — which later became part of the collection at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts — during a single year, in 1913.

Later, when he was commissioned to design the original building for the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo and spent time in the capital between 1917 and 1922, Wright acquired more prints and became an important ukiyo-e dealer.

Featuring high-quality ukiyo-e prints by Hiroshige, Hokusai, Utamaro and other artists, the New York show strives to make clear the deep influence these print masters had on Wright’s work.

According to the show’s curator, Julia Meech, Japanese art served as a spiritual support for the architect. While researching the ukiyo-e print collection at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Meech said she discovered that the vast majority of them were acquired from Wright.

The show also depicts the influence Japanese art had on the rest of Wright’s life.

The show continues until July 15.

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