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Modern Textiles

Botany printed linen
Josef Frank for Morley-Fletcher
American (printed in England), ca. 1950
108 x 51 in. (274.32 x 129.54 cm)
Austrian by birth and architect-trained, Josef Frank (1885–1967) is associated with mid-century Swedish design. Although he worked within a modernist tradition, Frank rejected functionalism's austere severity. His bright, exuberantly patterned textiles were instrumental in creating distinctive domestic spaces.

Frank's interest in textiles emerged early in his career. During a trip to Italy in 1909–10, he created his first pattern, and in the late teens he designed for the Wiener Werkstätte. In 1925, Frank opened a home furnishings business, Haus & Garten, with fellow architects and designers Oskar Wlach and Walter Sobotka.

In 1933, as the political climate became more threatening, Frank—who was Jewish—moved to Sweden. He collaborated with Estrid Ericson, the founder of Svenskt Tenn, a leading interiors firm based in Stockholm. Between 1942 and 1946, Frank lived in New York where he produced fifty patterns for Ericson. After his return to Sweden, he resumed his position at Svenskt Tenn.

Frank stressed plain white walls enlivened by color and pattern. Botany attests to the importance of nature in Frank's oeuvre, and reflects the influence of William Morris, millefleurs tapestries and English crewelwork, sources to which Frank returned many times.

The selvedge indicates that Botany was printed in England for Morley–Fletcher, a New York retailer in the late 1940s to mid–1950s; a paper tag from Chandler & Co, Boston, is still attached.

A length is in the Baltimore Museum of Art (2008.91).

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