Frank Lloyd Wright
He is considered by many the most influential
architect in modern history, but despite his
enormous cultural recognition, the full extent
of his contribution to design — posters,
brochures, typography, murals, book and
magazine covers — remains relatively obscure.
His covers for Liberty Magazine, mural designs
for Midway Gardens, Photographic
experiments, hand drawn typographic studies,
jacket designs for his own publications,
including The House Beautiful, and An
Autobiography are design masterpieces.
• From his childhood encounter with Friedrich
Froebel’s educational building blocks at the
1876 Centennial Exposition to his experiments
with geometric designs long before the
Mondrian age to his obsession with the
woodblock art of Old Japan, Wright’s
inspirations, influences, and singular style
evolves as his work dances across aesthetic
movements like Bauhaus, Japanisme, Arts and
Crafts, and De Stijl.
As Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation director Bruce
Brooks Pfeiffer writes in the introduction, what
Wright wrote in 1908 of architecture could well
apply to his graphic design work as well:
“As for the future — the work shall grow
more truly simple, more expressive with
fewer lines, fewer forms; more articulate
with less labor; more plastic; more fluent,
although more coherent; more organic. It
shall grow not only to fit more perfectly the
methods and processes that are called upon
to produce it, but shall further find
whatever is lovely or of good repute in
method or process, and idealize it with the
cleanest, most virile stroke I can imagine”
Frank Lloyd Wright, 'Kinder Symphony,' for the Avery Coonley playhouse, Riverside, Illinois, 1912.
Midway Gardens. Tavern Room, looking north to entranceway.
'The Eve of St. Agnes'
Title page designed by Wright for the Auvergne Press.
“Reading, sketching, and music each
played a role in shaping Wright’s
character. So did hard work. Beginning
when he was eleven, he worked through
the late spring and summer on his uncle’s
farm. Wright described the long hours
and hard work as ‘adding tired to tired.’
Nevertheless, this farm labor as an
‘amateur hired hand’ fostered an
everlasting appreciation of nature.”
TOP: Frank Lloyd Wright, conceptual sketch for promotional brochure, Midway Gardens. Pencil and
color pencil on paper.
BOTTOM: Cover, Midway Gardens.
This rare promotional pamphlet describes the facilities and their attractions and features photographs
of patrons enjoying the cosmopolitan atmosphere.
Frank Lloyd Wright, perspective of model J902. 'American System-Built Houses for the
Richards Company,' 1915–1917.
Frank Lloyd Wright, 'Saguaro Forms and Cactus Flowers.' Rug design, 1955.
Adapted from a cover for Liberty magazine, 1927–1928. Presentation drawing. Pencil and color pencil on
Frank Lloyd Wright, Scherzo. Rug design, 1955.
Adapted from Liberty cover design. Presentation drawing: pencil and color pencil on tracing paper.
Frank Lloyd Wright, cover and dust jacket, The Disappearing City (William Farquar Payson, 1932).
Wright’s abstraction of the “futile pattern” foretold the American dilemma of centralization