1893 saw the inauguration of the Columbian Expo in Chicago. A century that had witnessed the making of the American nation was drawing to a close and a new century that would see the USA take a leading role in world affairs was about to dawn.
One of the people who worked on creating the Expo was Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959). Wright, like his native land, was destined to become a giant of the 20th century, in his case in the field of world architecture. Although he only played a small part in the actual construction of the 1893 Expo, Wright was an assiduous visitor to its various pavilions, among them the diminutive Ho-o-den, a Japanese temple built on an artificial island. The young architect was fascinated by the Ho-o-den and it exercised a lifelong influence on his work. Wright had already encountered Japanese art and culture thanks to his first employer, Joseph L. Silsbee, who collected Japanese prints, and through attending the lectures of the great Japanese scholar Ernst Fenellosa. Later Wright visited Japan on several occasions and became one of the most respected American collectors of Japanese prints. In 1912 he published The Japanese Print. An Interpretation, which became both essential reading for Japanese art experts and enthusiasts and all those who wanted to understand Wright’s architecture. This book has now been translated into Italian for the first time and printed in a precious replica copy of the original, together with an in-depth background essay by Margo Stipe, a leading academic expert on Wright’s debt to Japanese culture. That Wright’s early encounter with the Ho-o-den influenced all his later work was confirmed by the elderly architect himself during an encounter with his pupils in 1954: “I’ve never told you how inspiring I found Japanese prints. I have never forgotten my first encounter at the time and I never will. It was a revelation, the gospel of simplification, which leads to the elimination of the superfluous”.