Josef Frank: Patterns-Furniture-Painting

Optimism in Prints and Watercolors

Last May I had the pleasure of visiting the Fashion and Textile Museum in London for the glorious exhibition, Josef Frank: Patterns-Furniture-Painting.  I have long admired Josef Frank’s work, and it was the first time for me to see his textiles and paintings in person.  Frank was an Austrian architect and designer, who created vibrantly hued textiles that were full of happiness and charm.  Flora and fauna prints became a signature of his, with fruits spread throughout repetitive scenes of trees, flowers, and insects.  Those heavenly patterns were on view at the exhibition, alongside some lesser known art of his in the form of watercolor paintings.  After Frank quit designing textiles in the 1950s, he took up watercolor painting focusing on still life subjects.  They were relatively unknown to those in his circle, and many of them were newly discovered and displayed at the London exhibition.  I was particularly drawn to one that featured a scene of land and ocean depicting two figures as half human and half animal, staring in the direction of a boat with two men being held captive.  Dark as it may sound, the painting actually had a naive and light hearted feel to it.  There was something seemingly mythological about it, as if it were modeled after a Greek fable.  I was so happy that I was able to photograph it, along with the many remarkably dazzling textiles on display.