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 Frederick Sigfred Franck  (1909 - 2006)

About: Frederick Sigfred Franck
 

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Lived/Active: New York / Holland      Known for: mystical-motif sculpture, sketches, paintings

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Ad Code: 3
Frederick S. (Dr.) Franck
from Auction House Records.
Still Life
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
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 and spirituality.

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.


Source:
Dennis Hevesi, “Frederick Franck”, The New York Times, Obituaries, June 18, 2006, p.25





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