11 March 2017

Josef Frank Patterns Furniture Painting at Fashion and Textile Museum


It was not much of a loose end but I had a few hours to fill between theatre appointments in Shoreditch and so I made another visit to the Fashion and Textile Museum (FTM) in Bermondsey, a short hop on the Northern Line from Old Street to London Bridge with a refreshing walk at either end.

Any visit to a museum starts or ends with a coffee and some cake. This time it started that way.

All I knew about Josef Frank beforehand was what FTM had shown me in their regular emails which was enough to tempt me to the exhibition but did little to inform me about the man or his works so I went in with some expectations and a lot of curiosity.

I soon earned that Josef Frank was Austrian by birth but moved to Sweden in middle-age to escape anti-Jewish persecution where is work in architecture extended to other forms of design.

Those expectations were quickly met too with large displays of fabrics in the style of the poster. The scale of the patterns with their large repeats and their lack of symmetry made them quite different from the floral patterns that I was familiar with from the likes of William Morris and Liberty. Somewhere along the line I remembered that I had some Ikea chairs with a pattern not unlike these, perhaps it a Scandinavian style.

Upstairs was something of a surprise as it was mostly paintings. Frank liked painting but was not terribly good at it, his cars looked very amateurish and his sense of perspective was unusual. That said, he often painted interesting scenes and their natural beauty and interest survived his artistic interpretation.



The paintings and other displays were interesting but it was the fabrics and furnishings that made the show special for me and there were lots of them to enjoy even in the relatively small space that is the FTM. I had to walk past them all again as I came back downstairs to leave and I enjoyed seeing them the second time almost as much as I had the first. It was a slow and pleasant exit.

The FTM is a remarkable place simply because it continually does exhibitions as stimulating this one.

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