Jean-Michel Frank

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Jean-Michel Frank (February 28, 1895 – 1941) was a French interior designer known for minimalist interiors decorated with plain-lined but sumptuous furniture made of luxury materials, such as shagreen, mica, and intricate straw marquetry.

Life and career[edit]

Jean-Michel Frank was born in Paris, a son of Léon Frank, a banker, and his wife and cousin, the former Nanette Frank. From 1904, he attended the Lycée Janson de Sailly in Paris. He began law school in 1911, but in 1915, he was hit by the double blow of the death of his two elder brothers, Oscar and Georges, on the front lines of World War I and that of his father who committed suicide. In 1928, he lost his mother who had been in a Swiss asylum for several years. From 1920 to 1925 he traveled and visited the world. In Venice he met the cosmopolitan society that gathered around Stravinsky and Diaghilev. Around 1927, Eugenia Errázuriz revealed to him the beauty of 18th century styles and her own modern, minimalist esthetic, and he became her disciple.

He then got in contact with a Parisian decorator called Adolphe Chanaux to do his apartment in the Rue de Verneuil. During the 1930s he worked with students at the Paris Atelier, now known as Parsons Paris School of Art and Design, where he developed the famous Parsons Table. In 1932, with Chanaux, he opened a shop at #140 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré. This was to be the consecration of ten years of collaboration, when he decorated for the Rockefellers and Guerlains. He designed Nelson Rockefeller's lavish Fifth Avenue apartment in New York in 1937.[1] During the winter of 1939-40, he left France for Argentina.

In Argentina, Jean-Michel Frank worked with his old friend and business associate Ignacio Pirovano on several important private and commercial projects.[2] Jean-Michel Frank kept his private apartment in Buenos Aires on the top floor of the company of which he was the Artistic Director[3] in Argentina, COMTE. This building was located on the corner of Florida Street and Marcelo T. De Alvear Avenue.[4] He also visited many of his clients in Buenos Aires including the Born family[5] whose mansion in the northern suburbs of Buenos Aires remains his single most important project. The entire collection is still intact and in-place in precisely the manner that Jean-Michel Frank conceived it. Recently published books shed more light on Frank's work with Comte in Argentina.

In 1941, Frank made a trip to New York. Sadly overcome by depression he committed suicide by throwing himself from the window of a Manhattan apartment building, leaving all his personal possessions in his apartment in Buenos Aires.

He was a first cousin of Otto Frank and, therefore, a first cousin, once removed, of the diarist Anne Frank.

A unique collection of home furniture designed by Frank for Hermès in 1924 is considered a classic set of minimalist homeware. The iconic designs – including a sheepskin club chair and parchment-covered dressing table – hold an enduring popularity, and Hermès rereleased many of the items to great fanfare in early 2011.[6]

Jean-Michel Frank today is recognized by leading designers the world over as one of the greatest sources of inspiration to many present-day designs.[7] His pieces are highly sought after by leading collectors worldwide. Many of the premier auction houses offer his pieces and prices are often in excess of 200,000 EUR.[8] An important exhibition was mounted towards the end of 2010 at a leading gallery in New York's SoHo. This exhibition highlighted Frank's work with Comte in Argentina.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Rozhon, Tracie (14 October 1999). "A Rockefeller Fixer-Upper". The New York Times. Retrieved 26 May 2011. 
  2. ^ Hugo Beccacece: La Nación. Suplemento Cultura, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/nota.asp?nota_id=625203, August 8th 2004
  3. ^ Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Viver: JEAN-MICHEL FRANK, The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period; pages 74, 257 and 258.
  4. ^ Mark Harrison Perera: The emergence of the importance of Jean-Michel Frank's work with Comte in Argentina - http://www.harrison20.com/magazine/articles/comte; page 2.
  5. ^ Hugo Beccacece: La Nación. Suplemento Cultura, http://www.lanacion.com.ar/nota.asp?nota_id=625203, August 8th 2004
  6. ^ "Being Frank". W Magazine (Condé Nast): 78. May 2011. 
  7. ^ New York Times blog, 20 de octubre de 2010: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/now-showing-jean-michel-frank-in-argentina/
  8. ^ Sotheby's, 24 de noviembre de 2010, lote 8: http://www.sothebys.com/es/catalogues/ecatalogue.html/2010/20th-century-decorative-arts-design-pf1025#/r=/es/ecat.fhtml.PF1025.html+r.m=/es/ecat.lot.PF1025.html/8/
  9. ^ New York Times blog, 20 de octubre de 2010: http://tmagazine.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/now-showing-jean-michel-frank-in-argentina/

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Martin-Vivier, Pierre-Emmanuel (2008). Jean-Michel Frank: The strange and subtle luxury of the Parisian haute-monde in the Art Deco period. New York: Rizzoli. ISBN 978-0-8478-3029-9.