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Expanding Tric-Trac Coffee Table in Oak by Jean-Michel Frank

Documentation Documented elsewhere (exact item)
Period 1920-1949
Materials Oak, Leather
Dimensions
W. 18 in; H. 18 in; D. 15.25 in;
W. 45.72 cm; H. 45.72 cm; D. 38.74 cm;
Open W. 31.5 in;
Open W. 80.01 cm;
Condition Excellent. Excellent
Creation Date 1937-early 1940s
Description Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941) was one of the most influential and original designers of the 20th century. Beginning in the 1920s, he developed a following among the Parisian cognoscenti for his elegantly understated furnishings and interiors. Typical of his designs was a radical simplification of form, rendered in texturally rich materials such as limed oak, parchment, straw marquetry, iron and leather.
In 1930, Frank entered into a partnership with Adolph Chanaux, who had already been executing his furniture designs. He acted as creative director for Chanaux & Company, and in 1935 the two would open a boutique under Frank’s name on rue Faubourg-Saint-Honoré dedicated to his designs and those of his artist and architect collaborators, such as Christian Béard and Emilio Terry.

Frank soon developed an international following, thanks in part to influential tastemakers such as Syrie Maughm in England and Francis Elkins in the United States that helped to nurture local interest in his designs. In Argentina, Ignacio Pirovano, interior designer and curator at the National Museum of Decorative Arts, proved to be an effective champion of Frank’s work.

Pirovano co-founded the firm Comte in 1932 to provide fine interior decor for the local market and began importing Frank models from Paris for placement in design projects as well as for retail sale. In 1936, Comte entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with Frank to produce his designs locally, and by 1937 the firm had set up a workshop to execute these models, as well as a broader offering of period and contemporary designs.

Frank completed a string of private projects in Argentina starting in the late 1930s, including the vast interiors for the home of Jorge Born and Maria Frías Ayerza Born (completed 1940) and the public spaces of the Llao Llao Hotel in Patagonia (1938). With the onset of the second world war, Frank immigrated to Argentina and briefly became creative director for Comte, appointing a number interiors for local society figures.

Perhaps the earliest iteration of this expandable coffee table design was in the sitting room of the Born residence (executed in limed oak) circa 1939. The Regency inspiration for the model is indicative of Frank’s interest in historical furniture types in the 1930s. The cut-out style of the legs makes the table into something of an abstraction of the earlier three-dimensional prototype, perhaps as a nod to Frank’s association with artists associated with the Surrealist movement. There is some variation in the profile of the legs. The center nob is depicted in the legs of this model as it appears in photographs of the living rooms of the Francisco Murature residence (top photo on right) and the Carlos Alberto Acevedo and Ana Cárcano de Acevedo residence (second photo on right) which Frank designed 1940-41. For the Born commission, the legs did not include the central knob.

Gallery BAC, Jean-Michel Frank in Argentina, New York, 2010, pgs. 26, 28, 31
Mo Amelia Teitelbaum, The Stylemakers: Minimalism and Classic Modernism 1915-1945, London, 2010, pgs. 133, 139, 145
Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank: Adolphe Channaux, Paris, 1980, pgs. 189, 190, 191
Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2008, pg. 168
Styles / Movements Art Deco, Modern, Revival
Incollect Reference Number 277294
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