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UAM Presents Frank Bros.: The Store that Modernized Modern

Published: January 23, 2017

Celebrating a little-known chapter in the history of California modernism, the University Art Museum (UAM) at CSULB will present “Frank Bros.: The Store that Modernized Modern,” an exhibit that relates the story of Southern California’s largest and most prominent mid-century retailer of modern furniture and design. The exhibit, now open, runs through Sunday, April 9.

Based in Long Beach from 1938-82, Frank Bros. embodied the optimistic post-war ethos of the American consumer, bringing fresh and exciting designs to the public not only through well-sourced inventory but with an innovative program of advertising, mailers, exhibitions and off-site custom interiors. As an exemplar of California modernism, Frank Bros. fueled and shaped the market for good design.

“Frank Bros.: The Store that Modernized Modern” exhibition investigates the legacy of a store that blurred the boundaries between art and commerce and functioned as a laboratory for new ideas in interior design, marketing and public relations.

Guest-curated by Cara Mullio and Jennifer M. Volland, the exhibition draws largely from the Frank Brothers archives at the Getty Research Institute and the Frank family personal collection. Highlights include original artwork and graphic material, newly uncovered Julius Shulman color photographs and furniture designs by Neal Small, Stacy Dukes, and Charles and Ray Eames.

Taking her cues from the Frank Bros. aesthetic, Los Angeles-based designer Marci Boudreau infuses the exhibition space with a bright palette, bold typography and dynamic juxtapositions. The exhibition opens with an extensive timeline designed with the graphic panache long-associated with the Frank Bros. name, and situates the company against the milieu of post-war America.

For additional information on the Frank Brothers, click here.

The UAM is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, from noon-5 p.m. and Wednesday from noon-8 p.m. It is closed on Fridays.