Albert Jacques Franck (1899–1973) was an acclaimed Canadian painter celebrated for his creations in oil and watercolor. His works captured the essence of Toronto’s winter landscapes, neglected neighborhoods, and alleyways. Born in Middleburg, the Netherlands, Franck made a life-changing move to Canada in 1926. Despite his deep passion for art since his youth, Franck’s father did not wish him to pursue a career in the field. Since he was also a champion swimmer, Franck initially worked as a swim coach, and other part-time jobs in factories and sold frames while working at the Eaton’s and Simpson’s fine art departments. There Franck’s urge to respond to his artistic calling persisted, so he began painting. Franck’s subject of inspiration was the previously overlooked parts of Toronto, which nowadays are viewed as a detailed historical account of the city of Toronto’s once impoverished areas.
Establishing his studio in a modest dwelling on Gerrard Street, Franck’s paintings started gaining local recognition when displayed in a neighborhood restaurant. In the 1950s, together with his spouse Florence Vale, also an artist, Franck transformed their studio into a vibrant community space for young artists in their artistic circle. The studio became a hub for emerging local artists, particularly those exploring abstract art, including Joyce Wieland and Kazuo Nakamura. As time passed, Franck and Vale upgraded to a larger home studio on Hazelton Street, which pivoted the art community’s epicenter to the Yorkville area in the 1960s.
In 1963, Franck held his inaugural exhibition at York University, and a decade later, his works were displayed at the AGO. Throughout his career, Franck actively participated in various group exhibitions. His paintings can be found in numerous collections, such as the London Public Library and Art Museum, the National Exhibition Centre in St. Catharine’s, ON, the New Brunswick Museum, and the AGO.