News and updates from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

World Heritage Posters Celebrate Wright Inscription through Artists’s Drawings

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation | Jul 27, 2020

In July of 2019, eight sites by Frank Lloyd Wright were inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We’re celebrating meticulously detailed drawings of these sites by artist Michael Pipher. His illustrations have been seen in the Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly magazine and they are now available as commemorative fine art prints.

Self-taught artist Michael Pipher started drawing at a very young age. His childhood sketches were punctuated with the vivid imagery of Walt Disney and its colorful cast of characters. By age 10, he would accompany his mother on her house visits for real estate practice, and began drawing the homes as closing gifts for her clients. This soon led to Michael’s deep interest in detailed floor plans. He precociously expanded from the house closing sketches to full blown new home brochure illustrations.

Thanks to this early architectural immersion and his parent’s supportive zeal, Michael discovered the vast world of Frank Lloyd Wright by the time he was 12. He promptly requested that his parents acquire the World Book Encyclopedia so that he could pore over every Wright design with fervor, beginning a lifelong passion for the great architect’s work. Studying the pictures in the encyclopedia, Michael started with freehand drawings, practicing on sites like Fallingwater repeatedly after careful assessment of the imagery. With a tome of Wright architecture all to himself, Michael was a boy obsessed. He produced hundreds of sketches reflecting Wright’s work before he even reached adulthood.

In the mid-1990s, Michael attended a Frank Lloyd Wright House Walk in Oak Park, IL  where he was often sighted “casually doodling” the many buildings found on the tour. His striking sketches quickly caught the attention of the private home owners. Michael was commissioned to produce drawings for the Oak Park House Walks and Unity Temple for numerous years thereafter.

A few years ago, with the 150th Anniversary of Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth looming, Michael decided that he would start posting a different drawing paired with a Wright quote for an entire 150 days before the anniversary arrived. This impressive social media feat further spread knowledge of his remarkable work throughout the Wright community.

In 2019, as the possibility of the UNESCO World Heritage inscription became a reality, the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation reached out to Michael about creating a special collection of drawings to celebrate the eight Wright sites in the UNESCO inscription for a commemorative poster. The lifelong Wright fan was so honored to help the sites with this important moment in history that he enthusiastically accepted the task. He also generously donated the use of the drawings for the Foundation’s Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly magazine.

Though Michael has drawn Wright’s projects countless times during his lifetime, often prolifically from memory and from innumerable perspectives, he still wished to create different versions for the UNESCO sites project. This was especially important to him as he envisioned how the eight properties would visually juxtapose against one another as posters and prints. For example, he has depicted Taliesin with a clean, spare landscape foreground so that viewers can see it proudly sitting on the brow of the Wisconsin hills. His new drawing of the Frederick C. Robie House showcases its full back, a lesser-known vantage point of the home, even to some Wright enthusiasts. And while he chose to stay with an iconic view of Fallingwater, Michael cleverly framed Taliesin West, Wright’s winter home in the desert, from a bird’s eye aerial view.

A spread from the Winter 2020 Frank Lloyd Wright Quarterly issue showing Michael Pipher’s drawing of Fallingwater.

Two different versions (Print I & Print II) of the Frank Lloyd Wright UNESCO World Heritage sites drawn by Michael Pipher are available.

Royalties generated from the sales of these prints goes to the Frank Lloyd Wright World Heritage Council, a collaboration of the eight sites included in the inscription, to promote the sites and Wright’s legacy.

Michael continues to draw from his boundless experience of Wright’s built and unbuilt works to create unique impressions of these famous structures. If you’d like to see more of his work, visit his Facebook page at MP Art Works to explore.