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 Alfons Bach  (1904 - 1999)

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Lived/Active: Connecticut/Florida / Germany      Known for: magazine illustration, painting, design

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:

Born in Magdeburg, Germany, Alfons Bach studied architecture at the University of Berlin and at the Reimann School.

Bach came to the U.S. in 1926 and established an industrial design firm in 1932 in New York City.  In 1937 he moved to Stamford, Connecticut, becoming president of the American Designers Institute in 1943. 

He continued his successful practice in Palm Beach, Florida, in 1959, and retired to Pensacola, Florida in 1992.

Biography from The Artisfun Gallery:
Alfons Bach was a U.S. industrial designer, born in Magdeburg, Germany on June 19, 1904.  He grew up in Munich and studied in Berlin, as well as, other European schools.  He worked in film set design and studied architecture at the Reimann School and the University of Berlin.  He exhibited a design in Paris in 1925.

He immigrated to New York City in 1926 and became a freelance industrial designer, founding the design firm of Alfons Bach Associates in Manhattan in 1932.

In the 1930s and '40s, he designed for the Lloyd Manufacturing Company in Menominee, Michigan.  Influenced by the Bauhaus School, Bach's designs were streamlined to reflect American machine-age tastes.  His work was included in contemporary industrial art exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and in surveys of the century's design at the Museum of Modern Art.

Clients included Heywood-Wakefield Furniture Company, International Silver, Philco and Trans World Airlines.  He located to Stamford, Connecticut in 1937, where he designed and developed the Ridgeway Shopping Center.  Bach designed and built his own home in Stamford, Connecticut in 1938.  He did designs for General Electric; the carpet makers, Bigelow-Sanford; the metalsmiths, Keystone Silver; the linen makers Pacific Mills and other clients.

He became president of the American Designers Institute (ADI) in 1943 and was awarded a Fellowship, which was honored by IDSA in 1965 after the merger of the two societies.  His honors included a medal from the Industrial Designers Institute and a design award from the Fifth Avenue Association.

In addition, Bach was also a noted painter.  His oils and watercolors were featured in numerous exhibitions in the United States and Europe. 

He was a member of the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and the Silvermine Guild of Artists. He exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art 1934, 1936, 1938, the American Designers Institute in 1942 (prize), the Modern Museum of Art, the New Jersey State Museum, the Philadelphia Art Center, the Riverside (California) Art Association, the Los Angeles Art Association, the Newark Museum of Art, the Rockford Art Association, the Babcock Gallery 1948, the Silvermine Guild of Artists 1950, and the Stamford Museum 1954.

Bach moved to Florida in 1959, where he designed the Palm Trail Plaza, a marina apartment complex in Delray Beach, completed in 1961.

A tubular steel table and two chairs that he designed are at the Yale University Art Gallery.  James D. Beebe, a specialist in the history of the decorative arts, said that tubular steel furniture designed by Mr. Bach for the Lloyd Manufacturing Company was made at its factory in Menominee, Michigan from the 1930's until 1947.

''It wasn't really until the 1930's that modernism took a really strong hold on furniture design'' in the United States, said Mr. Beebe, who is a master's degree candidate at the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts and is writing his thesis on the Lloyd company.  He said that designs done for the company by Mr. Bach and a colleague, Kem Weber, are ''icons for their period'' in furniture design, which was 1930's modernism, including more and more streamlining as time passed.

''They are fantastic pieces,'' Mr. Beebe said. ''You see the marriage of design and industry; you see two people who were very proficient in the design rhetoric for their time producing work for a company which was highly significant in developing the tubular-steel manufacturing technology that made this furniture affordable.''

Mr. Bach's style in this work was ''definitely not as angular as the Bauhaus School,'' he added, but ''showed the transition between the Bauhaus and the streamlined modern style.''

Describing the table at the Yale gallery, David Barquist, a curator there, wrote in a 1992 book: ''This table exemplifies the overall rectilinearity of Bach's designs'' for the Lloyd Company.

In 1994, Bach donated his drawings and papers to the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, where they remain today, as well as, the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.

Alfons Bach and his wife Anita honeymooned in Hawaii, where they bought four 17th-century sliding-door panels that once belonged to a Kyoto Zen temple.  In 1989 they sold the panels to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Mrs. Bach said, ''We wanted them to be someplace where they could be seen and taken care of.''

Alfons Bach retired to Pensacola, Florida in 1992 and died at the age of 95 in a nursing home in Pensacola, Florida on August 19, 1999.

Who Was Who in American Art
Davenport's Art Reference & Price Guide
The New York Times, August 23, 1999, Obituary
Smithsonian Research Library
Social Security Death Index

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