Form and Reform by Valerie Brown Cheers

Paul T. Frankl Vanity Stool

Let’s discuss form vs reform and the arts. Let’s see what the word form means: When I hear that word, what comes to mind is form of art or even an element of art.  Well, according to Merriam Webster – definition of art form means: 1:  a form or medium of expression recognized as fine art art form and an entertainment>2a :  an unconventional form or medium in which impulses regarded as artistic may be expressed art form — Tom Buckley>b :  an undertaking or activity enhanced by a high level of skill or refinementart form in peril of being lost to contemporary schedules — Joanna Pruess>

Amazing how art is considered an art form isn’t it? Guess this is why music can become so addicted because it is really an art and a very explosive expression form of art which definitely is a great form of art isn’t it?  Together those words are very powerful… and form = art form!
Now….let’s look at what art actually is! Art is the the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. Wow….powerful stuff isn’t it? The arts are major!
Makes you kind of suspicious why they want to remove from our kids school doesn’t it?
Guess you are wondering where this is leading up to? Well…..let’s talk a bit about the book Form and Re-Form – a practical handbook of modern times, acclaimed by few and not even known by many, Paul T. Frankl.
Volunteering for the public library has made very aware of more than ever and love Mr. Frankl’s thinking and designs of modern art and I think what makes Mr. Frankl’s work called modern art… this is just me saying…his work never goes out of style as some say, it just keeps on going and coming and coming and going all the way back far as the 1930’s, I do believe, but really did not become known until about the 1950’s and I was born in the 50’s too!
It is people like Mr. Frankl who really make me want to let others know more about who he really is, but I would like to introduce to you Chris Long, and will allow Chris to briefly tell you exactly who this great man was and still is, in the 21st century and makes so think of the boutique & lifestyle trendy looks of our global properties!
It is major when great things; we may or may not even known about because we were too young, and some not even born, to still be around and being used, like our boutique & lifestyle hotels! This man’s eloquence and amazing art form which so reminds me also of eco-friendly, green and what sustainability really stands for!
I can see this amazing man’s suppliers becoming our members, partners, etc. of the BLLA  -I decided to discuss this legend because his story is totally amazing and talk about being in the right place at the right time, and had to share Christopher Long’s synopsis about Mr. Frankl and hope you enjoy and we can all learn something together!
Christopher Long’s book so eloquently is written and is the first even completed about this incredible man. Christopher Long’s book cuts away the jungle of misconceptions about the life, career, and contributions to modern American design by Paul T. Frankl (1886-1959).  Dates of Frankl’s birth and death, his education, and episodes in his career all have been mis-reported. The book is the first complete record of the man.

Frankl became the subject of a book by accident. He came to Long’s attention through a research paper in an elective course–a holiday from Central European cultural studies–at the University of Texas at Austin in 1982. Dissertation research in Vienna about the architect Joseph Frank, eventually leading to the book published by the University of Chicago Press in 2002, accidentally and constantly offered new information about Frankl, because his name followed that of the architect in alphabetized records. Long wrote the book on Frank a decade later and returned to Frankl as a potential subject for research in depth. He traced Frankl’s daughter, Paulette. She shared documents and photographs which she had preserved about her family. The career and life of the designer and architect immediately became the subject for a book. In it the author’s expert knowledge of innovative architecture of the period became a great asset.

A peripatetic lie led to disparate biographical sources for Frankl that contributed to his obscurity. Born into a prosperous family in Vienna, his studies for example, were there, in Berlin, Paris, and Munich. Long solves documenting and presenting the episodic life by short chapters on each fact. Many readers will be surprised to learn that Frankl lived in New York City from the spring of 1914 to the winter of 1917 before immigrating in 1920. Remaining there until 1934, he then moved to Los Angeles and lived in or near the city until dying of colon cancer in the winter of 1959. Frankl’s fortunes shifted often over his career from prosperity to poverty, and his personal life ranged from depression over the death of his first wife and bitterness with divorce from his second to emotional security with his third.

Trained as an architect, Frankl early decided that a lack of capital for establishing an architectural firm required reliance on design. He applied his talents to a broad range of projects, from interior design, posters, greeting cards, and theater sets to selecting objects from Europe, the Orient, and Mexico for sale in his shops.

Furniture design is the major theme of his career. He used many approaches to his fundamental interest in modernism, though he occasionally mind the themes of simplified Biedermeier and vernacular furniture from Europe and America. Long devotes a chapter to Frankl’s “Skyscraper Style”, which echoed the attenuated and irregular rectangular shapes of its namesake (pp. 65-91). The Style expressed Frankl’s search for a distinctively American design, and the popularity of it made him the leader of the American modernist movement.

The author and the press have fashioned a book of good quality with a few disappointments. The prose is clear, though the reader sometimes searches for the date of an episode under discussion. Documentation is thorough. Long gives readers an excellent “Bibliography” with three divisions: “Archival Sources”, “Frankl’s Writings”, and “Other Sources”. The color and black-and-white illustrations are superb in quality. Other features of the book are unfortunate. Captions for illustrations often lack measurements, identification of woods for furniture, and the owners of objects or the source of photographs, such as magazines or brochures. The section entitled “Illustration Credits” at the back of the book is difficult to read as a single paragraph, and readers must already know or guess sources to find them in the alphabetical list or read through it; the information easily could have been included in the captions, where readers could conveniently refer to it.

Long’s book is more than a responsible treatment of Frankl. It presents insights into the efforts of other designers, into American taste, and into business practices in the arts. The information is not available elsewhere.

Well, in conclusion would like to share you with some of Mr. Frankl’s work!  Paul T Frankel was way before his time for sure and his work will keep him alive!

Vanity by Paul T. Frankl “Skyscraper Galleries” circa 1930 USA

Man’s Cabinet by Paul T. Frankl1240: PAUL T. FRANKL 1887-1958 Side table, 1950s W : Lot 1240


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