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 Jane Schenthal Frank  (1918 - 1986)

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Lived/Active: Maryland      Known for: mixed-media abstract painting, sculpture

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Jane Schenthal Frank
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Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following revised biography was submitted in March of 2006 by Mark Williams:

Jane Frank was born Jane Babette Schenthal in Baltimore in 1918.  She received her initial training at the Maryland Institute of Arts and Sciences, now called the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA).  In 1939, she graduated from New York’s School of Fine and Applied Art (now called the Parsons School). She returned to Baltimore, worked in advertising design, and pursued painting seriously starting in about 1940. She soon married and began raising a family, returning seriously to painting in 1947. In 1956 she studied in Provincetown, Massachusetts, with one of the greatest abstract expressionists, Hans Hofmann. This inspiration precipitated a leap forward that led soon to solo exhibitions at the Baltimore Museum of Art (1958), the Corcoran Gallery of Art (1962), and New York’s Bodley Gallery (1963), among others.

Her paintings and mixed media works are in the permanent collections of the Corcoran Gallery of Art (“Amber Ambience”, 1964), the Smithsonian American Art Museum (“Frazer’s Hog Cay#18”, 1968), and the Baltimore Museum of Art (“Winter’s End”, 1958).  The Sculptural Landscape of Jane Frank (1968), with a text by Phoebe B. Stanton (the distinguished art history professor emerita at Johns Hopkins University who died in 2003), remains the single best source on Jane Frank.  Though now out of print, it is still in many public libraries, and it contains many large, full-page plate reproductions of the artist's works, including many in color.  There are also pictures of the artist at home and in her studio.  Professor Stanton provides a perceptive commentary, along with quotations from the artist, tracing the evolution of Frank's artistic thought through the 1960's as her craggy abstract expressionist oil paintings began to evolve into complex mixed-media reliefs, featuring applied materials (such as burnt wood, sea-weathered glass, gesso, pebbles, etc.), holes cut in the canvas, revealing deeper layers of painted canvas, and other ways of exploiting the third dimension within the context of a framed and painted image.  Perhaps some comparison could be made with the work of Robert Rauschenberg, but Jane Frank's use of mixed media is always evocative first and foremost of the natural processes that shape landscapes and seascapes.  Nevertheless, the pieces are completely abstract, with a kind of wild, unpeopled look about them.  You would not expect to see bits of newspaper, tools, or furniture in a Jane Frank work, for example, as you might see in a Rauschenberg assemblage.  In fact, if Miro and Calder were identified with "biomorphic abstraction", perhaps Frank's language could be called "geomorphic abstraction." 

She turned to sculpture in her later years.  A Decade of Sculpture: the New Media in the 1960's (Julia M. Busch, 1974), contains many images of Frank's sculptures.  Early in Frank’s career, she worked as a book illustrator, and her distinctive block prints can be seen in Thomas Yoseloff's The Further Adventures of Till Eulenspiegel (New York, 1957).  She died in 1986. 

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