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    Description

    Jean-Michel Frank (French, 1895-1941)
    Pair of Rare Armchairs, circa 1939, Comte S.R.L.
    Painted iron, leather
    35 x 23-1/2 x 28 inches (88.9 x 59.7 x 71.1 cm)
    Together with a certificate of authenticity from the Comité Jean-Michel Frank, Paris


    Jean-Michel Frank was a French designer known for his sophisticated austerity, active for only a brief span between the late 1920s and 1941. While his propensity for simplified forms would seem consonant with the design tenets of the Modernist movement, Frank utilized natural materials almost exclusively, eschewing the use of new and machined materials such as polished metals and molded plastics favored by his contemporaries. He emphasized the presence of humanity and tactility rather than their absence, lending his forms a sensuous quality, as opposed to the mechanical nature of the Bauhaus school or Le Corbusier's "machines for living". Drawing from Weimar-era Bohemian counterculture, Frank's style functioned as a commentary on class division, forcing "refinement" and "crudeness" to occupy the same space. Elegant room partitions were inlaid with straw, plush sofas upholstered with jute, traditional gueridons topped with terracotta, or, as in the present examples, two armchairs and a bench made of painted iron and hand-stitched, raw-edged leather. Though his pieces were made for elite clientele, he channeled the flamboyance and ingenuity of the socially, politically, and economically marginalized.

    In 1936 Frank forged a partnership with renowned Buenos Aires design firm Comte via his impressive network of acquaintances. Comte began manufacturing Frank's designs in that year, continuing to do so even after his death in 1941. The present examples, authenticated by the Comité Jean-Michel Frank, were produced in 1939 with Frank providing creative oversight. In his commissions for Comte, Frank demonstrated a continued interest in the interplay of high and low culture, as evidenced with this set. Here he has updated an earlier design, the basis of which came from a set from his pivotal 1929 commission decorating several rooms in Charles and Marie-Laure Noailles' Parisian residence, the Hotel Bischoffsheim. The French and Argentinian examples differ slightly in materials and construction, with Frank selecting locally sourced leather and iron for the Comte examples. Although Jean-Michel Frank's life and career were tragically short, his influence was nonetheless profound, with a design aesthetic that is highly revered and an underlying philosophy that continues to be politically relevant.


    Estimate: $90,000 - $120,000.

    Condition Report*: Signs of age and use. The original leather with areas of discoloration and wear. With some folds to the leather as seen in the images. Some surface wear to metal frames and one front leg with a fissure visible on front of frame. Some leather lacing loose and one arm with a piece of leather lace broken.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    October
    21st Sunday
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    13 Days 8h 24m
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