Kirkland Museum Of Fine & Decorative Art Announces Acquisition And Installation Of Frank Lloyd Wright Window

Denver, September 13, 2022 – Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art announces the significant acquisition of a window designed in 1901 by Frank Lloyd Wright for the Ward W. Willits House in Highland Park, Illinois. Continuing Kirkland Museum’s year-long celebration of the genius of Frank Lloyd Wright, the window will be unveiled on Tuesday, September 20th, at 11 am and will remain permanently on view.

“We are delighted by the opportunity to acquire and display an example from Frank Lloyd Wright’s early work when he was solidifying the design choices that made him an icon throughout his 70-year career and continuing today,” notes Deputy Curator Christopher Herron.

The Willits window joins more than 120 Frank Lloyd Wright decorative art objects in Kirkland Museum’s permanent collection, assembled by Kirkland Museum founders Hugh Grant and Merle Chambers. 

About the Willits House

Frank Lloyd Wright founded his own architectural practice in 1893 after working for Louis Sullivan (see Sullivan’s Baluster in Kirkland Museum’s Art Nouveau Gallery 4). Late in life, Wright referred to the Willits House, completed in 1902, as his “first great Prairie House.” Wright would continue to develop his Prairie Style, inspired by the open spaces and flatness of the American Midwest, though each building was customized to fit specifically into the landscape in which it was situated.

According to the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, “The Ward Willits House represents a radical step forward in Wright’s emerging design maturity.” As was common for Wright, he designed the furniture and art glass for the Willits House as well as the building itself.

About the Window

The Willits House has over 100 windows; the one at Kirkland Museum is from the home’s interior and was part of the door separating the dining room from the kitchen. While lacking much color, this window represents the geometric motifs found throughout the home. Gold leaf and copper-plated zinc provide some sparkle. The simple geometry was quite radical for the turn of the 20th century. Designers and architects like Josef Hoffmann were using grid patterns in Vienna by this time, but American glass by companies like Tiffany Studios, for example, was still realistically floral and not abstract. The stark geometry of the Willits window shows a bold move toward abstraction.

The Willits window will be installed in Kirkland Museum’s foyer where two Frank Lloyd Wright windows were removed this spring before they were repatriated to Frank Lloyd Wright’s Martin House in Buffalo, New York. The Martin House’s many visitors can now see the repatriated windows on view as Wright intended them. The Ward W. Willits House is still standing as a privately owned residence and is not open to public viewing.

More about the Willits window will be added to Kirkland Museum’s audio guide on Bloomberg Connect, the free arts and culture app.

For photography, please click here.

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