Albert Jacques Franck
Albert Jacques Franck, Albie, painter (b at Middelburg, Holland 2 Apr 1899; d at Toronto 28 Feb 1973). He was long-distance swimming champion of Belgium in 1924, worked as a swimming coach at the central YMCA in Montréal after immigrating to Canada, and then held various jobs in Toronto and Montréal. The turning point in Franck's career came after WWII when he rented a shop on Toronto's Gerrard St, the city's "Greenwich Village," and restored pictures, designed Christmas cards and displayed his paintings. Franck, generous with food and advice, became paterfamilias to a considerable group of younger artists.
Franck tried to paint all the seasons of the year, but winter became his subject, and he found his true métier in the tumbled houses and the acrid lanes of Toronto neighbourhoods. His work took on a new plastic power, the colour deepened, and detail was reduced in a design that gave freedom to heightened feeling. Franck gradually received critical and financial success as his love of old brick, dirty snow and lane fences spread into the larger texture of Canadian life. He made people see the ordinary that is home. His vision of Toronto was a fulcrum for the simple idea that cities become great by what they preserve.