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Franck, Frederick 1909-2006

FRANCK, Frederick 1909-2006
(Frederick Sigfred Franck)

OBITUARY NOTICE—

See index for CA sketch: Born April 12, 1909, in Maastricht, the Netherlands; died of congestive heart failure, June 5, 2006, in Warwick, NY. Artist, dentist, and author. Franck was a painter, sculptor, and book author whose art constantly strove to express spiritual themes. As a young boy, he was forever influenced by the sight of German troops marching through the streets of his home during World War I. This experience would inspire him to seek the meaning of humanity through spirituality. Graduating from the University of Amsterdam in 1931, he then received a degree in 1935 from the Antwerp Dental School. As the Nazi threat grew, he fled the Netherlands for England and Scotland, where he completed a second dental degree from the Royal College of Surgeons in Edinburgh. He continued to flee the war in 1939, arriving in the United States, where he worked as a hospital dental surgeon. Franck established his own practice in 1946. One of his most memorable experiences would come in 1958, when he started a dental clinic in Africa and worked with Albert Schweitzer in Gabon. He wrote about this in Days with Albert Schweitzer (1959), later reprinted as My Days with Albert Schweitzer: A Lambarene Landscape (1992). Returning to his New York City practice, he worked as a dentist part time until 1966. By the 1960s, he had become more involved with his art, eventually abandoning dentistry. As a sculptor, he tended to work in glass, steel, and wood, creating simplified images of religious scenes and other spiritual concepts. Near his home, he and his wife bought a six-acre park in 1959 and filled it with his sculptures. Dedicating it to Schweitzer, the pope, and Zen Buddhist teacher Daisetz T. Suzuki, Franck made the display open to the public. He regularly participated in exhibits and one-man shows, and eventually had a number of his creations exhibited permanently at the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Franck was also a prolific author, writing on philosophy, religion, and art for both adult and young audiences. Among his many publications are My Eye Is in Love (1963), The Zen of Seeing (1973), Art As a Way: A Return to the Spiritual Roots (1981), To Be Human against All Odds (1991), and Watching the Vatican (2000). Believing that to be human was to evolve beyond one's reptilian and mammalian instincts, Franck felt that practices such as meditation and drawing could better connect one spiritually to the world. He was honored many times for his work, including being awarded the Pontifical Medal of Pope John XXIII, knighthood in the Order of Orange-Nassau, and the Ruth Bayley Peace Award from PeaceLinks in 2000.

OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Chicago Tribune, June 19, 2006, section 3, p. 10.

Los Angeles Times, June 19, 2006, p. B15.

New York Times, June 18, 2006, p. A25.

Times (London, England), July 13, 2006, p. 69.

Washington Post, June 21, 2006, p. B7.

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