Sunday, May 10, 2009

A passing flight of fancy

Last week whilst deleting images from my office computer I came across this, one of the most covetable articles ever to hit my consciousness, the Skyscraper bookcase by Paul T. Frankl. It, in any of its variations, is a piece of furniture to build  a room around. 

Mr. Frankl, the cover of whose book you see above, a furniture designer from Vienna, Austria came to the United States in 1914 and we know him as a designer of Art Deco furniture. The book by the way was published in 1928 and is one of the most interesting reads - as all prognostications of the future are.

He says " it is important to know what is being done elsewhere for, only by understanding the decorative world as it is at present and how some of the main features originated, can we hope to find our own place in the decorative arts movement. If it is not possible to have these greatly intensified art movements in Europe without a certain amount of influence exerting itself on the creative American mind. But, while there may be sometimes a good reason for copying period art, there never is any excuse for the American creative mind to copy today's European art. The result would be at once be evident and it would be disastrous.

"Will modern art live? And will this movement, which is now demanding so much attention, last, or is it just a passing flight of fancy?

"The answer is; Yes, it will live!

"And the reason for this is that the world has never gone backward but always onwards on toward the future."

Did Modernism live? Did the explicit chauvinism of American art Frankl talks about above thrive? Was it all a passing fancy? 

One year later, the Great Depression began, eleven years later Europe continued what it hadn't finished at the end of the First World War and that American national pride mentioned by Frankl showed itself in the Lend-Lease act of President Roosevelt which meant that by the end of the war the US had contributed forty-two billion dollars and many lives to the war effort. 

A passing flight of fancy? I guess not. 

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