Fraktur is a manuscript-based folk art tradition brought from Europe by German-speaking immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania in the seventeenth century. Fraktur documents are exuberantly decorated with distinctive lettering and painted tulips, hearts, angels, unicorns, and eagles. Resembling illuminated manuscripts, fraktur documents were usually domestic and personal documents, such as birth and baptismal certificates, writing samples, music books, and religious texts.
Framing Fraktur takes a unique approach to the study of traditional fraktur by connecting it to the work of contemporary artists who similarly combine images with texts. Examining masterworks from the Free Library of Philadelphia's vast collection of fraktur as well as manuscripts, books, and broadsides, the first section of the book provides historical background, analysis, and recent interpretation of fraktur material culture. In the second section, fraktur is linked to modern practices and movements from around the world, including Dada, Pop Art, Imagism, graffiti and street art, and contemporary folk art genres such as samplers, block prints, and sign painting. Vividly illustrated in full color, Framing Fraktur traces the resonances of this unique and vibrant art from the past to the present.
Contributors: Lisa Minardi, Janine Pollock, Matthew Singer, Judith Tannenbaum.
Judith Tannenbaum is a Philadelphia-based curator and writer. She retired from her position as Richard Brown Baker Curator of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Art Rhode Island School of Design in 2013. Tannenbaum has organized numerous exhibitions focusing on painting, sculpture, video, and interdisciplinary work, with a particular interest in relationships among fine art, craft, and design.