Happy Birthday Josef Frank!
Yesterday you might have noticed that Google’s search page was adorned with a Google Doodle inspired by the textile design of modernist architect, designer, and theorist, Josef Frank. Until Google’s recognition of the artist on the event of what would be his 125th birthday, many were likely unfamiliar with his work, despite his status as one of Europe’s leading modernists and co-founder of the Vienna School of Architecture. Thus for those wanting to find out more about this widely accomplished, yet obscure figure of twentieth century art, we offer Josef Frank: Life and Work—the first study to comprehensively explore Frank’s life, ideas, and designs.
Educated in Vienna just after the turn of the century, Frank became the leader of the younger generation of architects in Austria after the First World War. But Frank fell from grace when he emerged as a forceful critic of the extremes of modern architecture and design during the early 1930s. Dismissing the demands for a unified modern style, Frank insisted that it was pluralism, not uniformity, that most characterized life in the new machine age. He called instead for a more humane modernism, one that responded to people’s everyday needs and left room for sentimentality and historical influences. He was able to put these ideas into practice when, in 1933, he was forced to leave Vienna for Sweden. There his work came to define Swedish (or Scandinavian) modern design. For more than thirty years he was the chief designer for the Stockholm furnishings firm Svenskt Tenn, producing colorful, cozy, and eclectic designs that provided a refreshing alternative to the architectural mainstream of the day and presaged the coming revolt against modernism in the 1960s.
In this sensitive study of one of the twentieth century’s seminal architects and designers, author Christopher Long offers new insight into Frank’s work and ideas and provides an important contribution to the understanding of modernist culture and its history.
Pick up a copy of the book or check out Time Magazine’s online article on the Frank Google Doodle.