George Niedecken

Year inducted: 2007
1878-1945

In his lifetime, George Niedecken was the indispensable ally of, and collaborator with, fellow Wisconsinite, Frank Lloyd Wright. But he was much more than that. His contributions to American art laid largely dormant until the 1970s when his name kept surfacing in studies of Twentieth Century interior and architectural design. Increased collecting, awareness and scholarship of American art, especially of the Prairie School Style, brought George’s name to the fore, leading to many exhibitions and publications that included his work. Today one cannot open a book that deals with the Prairie School, or Craftsman and Mission Art Movements, without encountering his name. His close collaboration with Frank Lloyd Wright during the period of 1904 to 1917 obscured his own talent, but it is clear that as partner he amended Wright’s designs and took full responsibility for certain aspects of Wright’s residential commissions, as well as producing for decades his own many individual projects and commissions. As early as twelve years old he was studying with artist Richard Lorenz and then at the Wisconsin Art Institute. Along with Edward Steichen he helped found the Milwaukee Art Student’s League where he also taught. He attended the Art Institute of Chicago, and was for a while in Paris where he had Alphonse Mucha as a teacher. While there he exhibited at the Paris Solon of 1901. In 1907, in Milwaukee, he founded his own design firm, Niedecken – Walbridge Co., and soon he was producing custom furnishings including furniture, carpets and other textiles, stained glass, lighting fixtures, acting as architect, muralist, interior designer, craftsman and employer. His early broad experiences, the influences gathered in Europe, and his personal observation of American culture, manifested in his unique and successful work as artist and businessman.

Works by George Niedecken