Jean-Michel Frank (French, 1895-1941). Pair of Rare Armchairs, circa 1939, Comte S.R.L.. Painted iron,...Click the image to load the highest resolution version.
DescriptionJean-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.
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