Swedish Queen Silvia Opens an Exhibition

On Josef Frank

Austrian Press Agency (11/22/2007)

Vienna – Queen Silvia of Sweden and the wife of Austrian Federal President, Margit Fischer, opened Wednesday the exhibition, “Josef Frank - Architect and Outsider,” in the presence of Vienna’s Regional Parliamentary President Johann Hatzl, Deputy Mayor Renate Brauner, President of the Vienna Jewish Community Ariel Muzicant, Vienna Holding Director Peter Hanke and numerous other guests of honor at the Museum Judenplatz. The director of the Jewish Museum, Karl Albrecht-Weinberger, honored Frank as one of the most important architects and designers of the 20th century. The furnishings and textiles he created rank among the classics of European design and are loved and treasured to this day. The story of Josef Frank began in Vienna during the last turn of the century. At the time Vienna was strongly under the influence of many different cultures – including  Jewish – and was the focal point of intellectual and cultural creativity. Born in Baden in 1885, Frank left for Vienna to study architecture with Carl König at the Technical University. Josef Frank soon left behind him the traditional style of his teacher and became a representative of the critically modern. Like many of his co-workers, Frank came from the assimilated Jewish middle class. In 1913 he designed his first single family houses, and in 1925 he founded, together with Oskar Wlach, the furniture store, “House and Garden.” Frank was a strong advocate of the “Settler Movement.” In 1930-1932, the Vienna “Werkbundsiedlung” was built under Frank’s direction.

Pressured by increasing anti-Semitic hatred in Austria, Josef Frank emigrated with his Swedish wife, Anna, in 1933 to Stockholm, where he designed primarily furniture and textiles. At the age of almost fifty, Frank was offered a designer position by Estrid Erikson at Svenskt Tenn. Frank’s cooperation with Estrid Erikson was decisive in determining his life-long success. When Norway and Denmark was occupied by Nazi Germany, the Franks left Europe to live and work in the United States. At the end of the war in 1946, they returned to Sweden.

Vienna’s Jewish Museum presents the exhibition, “Josef Frank - Architect and Outsider,” in cooperation with Stockholm’s Jewish Museum and with the congenial support of Svenskt Tenn. On exhibit are some of the extraordinary examples of his work as an architect and designer. The exhibition shown in Vienna is supplemented by some of his works taken from the time he was living in Vienna. The exhibition was put together by a team of workers from the Stockholm Jewish Museum.  It offers a catalogue, issued in Swedish and English, and costs 14.90 euro. The exhibition runs from November 22 through January 2008 in the Museum Judenplatz, 1010 Vienna, Judenplatz 8. For further information, see: www.jmw.at/