R.C.A., O.S.A. Dutch Canadian, April 2, 1899–February 28, 1973
"The country of Rembrandt and Van Gogh was also the country of Albert Jacques Franck (1899-1973), who arrived in Canada in 1927. Franck worked out of a Gerrard St. Store in what was then Toronto's artist colony. His depictions of sleepy neighbourhoods, gabled homes and wintry street scenes inspired many of the city's younger artists." Tony Ruprecht, in his book Toronto's Many Faces.

Albert Jacques Franck was born in Middelburg, Netherlands. As a youth he actively engaged in competitive swimming, so much so that when he immigrated to Canada in 1926, he was able to make a living as a swimming instructor. Franck also worked in factories and later worked in an art gallery selling picture frames.

 

Franck's depictions of Toronto are of great historical value today for they provide an accurate depiction of the conditions that had existed in Toronto's less affluent neighbourhoods at the time. His paintings show realistic scenes of Toronto in winter and explore dilapidated neighbourhoods and back lanes.

 

Franck began producing work in his own studio in his small home on Gerrard Street, Toronto. His works began to gain local notoriety while displayed in a neighbourhood restaurant. In the 1950s, he and his wife, artist Florence Vale, developed their studio into a community space for the youth in their arts community. Their studio became a gathering place for up and coming local artists, particularly abstract artists, such as Joyce Wieland and Kazuo Nakamura. Later, Franck and Vale upgraded to a larger home-studio on Hazelton Street that also served as an art gallery. This was part of a general migration of the art community to the Yorkville area during the 1960s.

 

Franck's first exhibition was held at York University in 1963. Ten years later, his work was exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Franck also participated in a number of group exhibitions during his career. His paintings can be found in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, London Public Library and Art Museum, National Exhibition Centre in St. Catharines, ON, the New Brunswick Museum, and McMaster University.


Franck died in Toronto on February 28, 1973. A street in the Lawrenceville area of Toronto is named after him.

 

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