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Skyscraper Cabinet

Tall black painted wooden cabinet, white trim, shape of skyscraper.

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  • Tall black painted wooden cabinet, white trim, shape of skyscraper.


c. 1927


Paul Theodore Frankl (American, born Austria, 1886–1958)

About this artwork

Trained as an architect in Vienna and Berlin, Paul T. Frankl immigrated to New York in 1914 and established his own gallery. There he began to design interiors and champion the skyscraper as a source of a uniquely American modernist vision. The impetus behind the Skyscraper Cabinet, however, was distinctly rural. Frankl spent the summer of 1925 in Woodstock, New York, sketching ideas for new furniture designs and renovating his cabin. In an effort to organize his books, he fitted boards together to create a cabinet with “a rather large, bulky lower section and a slender, shallow upper part going straight to the ceiling. It had a new look; the neighbors came and said, ‘It looks just like the new skyscrapers.’” From then on, Frankl experimented with spare, geometric furniture that mimicked the setback contours of New York skyscrapers. By 1926 these pieces were touted in Good Furniture magazine as the “sky-scraper type of furniture, which is as American and as New Yorkish as Fifth Avenue itself.” The Art Institute’s monumental cabinet epitomizes Frankl’s designs. Its geometric form rests on a sharply molded base and consists of a bottom cabinet section surmounted by a series of compartments and shelves arranged in a pyramidlike fashion. Smooth, unadorned surfaces exemplify the tenets of modernist design.


On View, Gallery 271


Arts of the Americas


Paul Theodore Frankl


Skyscraper Cabinet


New York City (Object made in)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

c. 1927


Painted wood


213.4 × 83.8 × 40 cm (84 × 33 × 15 3/4 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of the Antiquarian Society through Mr. and Mrs. Thomas B. Hunter III and Mr. and Mrs. Morris S. Weeden

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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