Jean-Michel Frank - Design New York Wednesday, December 15, 2010 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Buenos Aires, Argentina

  • Literature

    Leopold Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Paris, 1997, p. 198 for the earlier French variant of the model; Pierre Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank, Paris, 2006, p. 23 for an illustration of the earlier French variant of the model; Gallery BAC and James Buresh, Jean-Michel Frank in Argentina, New York, 2010, pp. 60-61 for a similar example

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present desk was produced by Comte, the Argentinean furniture maker and retailer, after an earlier iron and leather model by French designer Jean-Michel Frank. Comte was established in Buenos Aires in 1932 by Ignacio Pirovano, the future director of the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo. An aesthete and an interior designer, Pirovano met and befriended Frank in the early 1930s during an extended stay in Paris with his wife, Lía Elena de Elizade. She later recalled in La Nacional: "We had acquired an apartment and needed furniture. Jean-Michel lent us a coiffeuse and a table … Thus was born our friendship." (Gallery Bac and James Buresh, Jean-Michel Frank in Argentina, New York, 2010, p. 13). As Buresh has noted, Comte functioned in several ways: the firm imported European furniture, including French-made works by Frank; it produced its own designs; and it subcontracted orders to outside cabinetmakers. By 1936 Pirovano signed an exclusive agreement to produce Frank’s designs in Argentina, which the firm continued to do after the latter’s death in 1941. As Buresh has also noted, Frank did not arrive in Argentina until 1940 (his first and only visit) and departed in January 1941 for New York. Although he lived in Argentina briefly (in an apartment above the Comte showroom), Frank exerted a strong influence there long before and after his stay.

  • Artist Biography

    Jean-Michel Frank

    French • 1895 - 1941

    Working in Paris, New York and Argentina, Jean-Michel Frank designed subtle, exquisitely proportioned furniture and lighting for sophisticated interiors. His elite roster of patrons included the vicomte Charles de Noailles, the businessman and politician Nelson A. Rockefeller, the couturier Elsa Schiaparelli and the perfumer Guerlain, among many others. Against the backdrop of the interwar period, Frank designed calm, subdued interiors that offered refuge from the chaotic world. His furniture, which was often clad in vellum, bleached leather or shagreen, featured clean lines and served to complement the art collections of his clients, which included works by Picasso, Léger and Matisse.

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ca. 1942

Painted wrought iron, leather-covered wood, brass.

30 1/2 x 55 3/4 x 22 in. (77.5 x 141.6 x 55.9 cm.)
Manufactured by Comte S.A., Argentina. Interior of one drawer with metal label "COMTE/S.A./BUENOS AIRES/OBRA...PRESUPUESTO…/TAREA SECCION INDUSTRIAL 3922." Together with a certificate of authenticity from the Comte Committe, Argentina.

$40,000 - 60,000 


15 December 2010
New York