|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Known as an artist who explored spirituality through his sculpture,
painting, sketches, and numerous writings including 30 books, Frederick
Franck has more than 70 sculptures installed in a six-acre park, Pacem
in Terris, in his hometown of Warwick, New York. He and his wife
built and dedicated the palce to Pope John XXIII, Dr. Albert Schwetizer
and Daisetz Suzuki, three of the major influences on the life of
Frederick Franck. The site is on the Wayayanda River by an old
gristmill site near the Franck home. He also has work in public
places around the country, including four in the Central Ward of
Newark, New Jersey that are intended to be symbolic of "a large petaled
flower with a red and gold stained-glass center, and a phoenix rising
from its perch."|
The Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New
York City have paintings and drawings by Frederick in their
collections. For Franck, drawing was an extension of
meditation. Among his published books are The Zen of Seeing---Seeing Drawing as Meditation (1973), and To Be Human Against All Odds (1991), a collection of essays by spiritual thinkers including Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.
Franck was born in Maastricht, the Netherlands where his father was a
shopkeeper. He later recalled that as a five-year old, he watched
out the windows, seeing refugees marched down the streets by German
soldiers, and that it gave him a life-long horror of war. It also set
him on a spiritual quest of trying to understand human struggles, and
this exploration was reflected in his artwork and writings.
He explorations include comparative religions; Zen Buddhism, which he
encountered through Daisetz Suzuki; and distinctions between religion
In 1931, he graduated from the University of Amsterdam, and then went
to Antwerp where he earned a degree in dental surgery from the Antwerp
School of Dentistry. Then fearing the rise of the Nazi movement,
he moved to England and then Scotland, where he enrolled in the Royal
College of Surgeons in Edinburgh and took a second degree in
dentistry. In 1939, Franck immigrated to the United States and
worked in several hospitals as a dental surgeon. From 1946 to
1966, he spent several days a week in Manhattan practicing dentistry.
In 1957, he and his wife began a three-year period of working with Dr.
Albert Schweitzer in Lambaréne, Gabon. The Francks ran a dental
clinic, and Frederick also spent much time sketching and working with
people in a leper colony. In 1958, Frederick Franck's book about
these experiences was published: My Days with Albert Schweitzer.
Returning home, the Francks bought the land they used for Pacem in
Terris, which is a meditation space as well as sculpture garden.
Frederick Franck believed that through meditation "one can break
through the perfunctory way of seeing things and focus on their
essence" . . .
Three times during the 1960s, Franck and his wife went to Rome, Italy
to witness the ecumenical council called by Pope John XXIII. From these
experiences, Franck did a portfolio of drawings reflective of the fact
that ". . .the reforms of Pope John XXIII became one of Mr.
Franck's seminal influences."
Frederick Franck died in Warwick, New York, on June 5, 2006 at the age of 97.
Dennis Hevesi, “Frederick Franck”, The New York Times, Obituaries, June 18, 2006, p.25
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