Interview with Frederick Franck on his Art, his Life and his Work


Frederick Franck who was a much loved friend and honored member of the New York Open Center faculty died in June at the age of 97. In the over 20 years that we were blessed to have him in our lives, he inspired thousands of people through his books, his workshops on the Zen of Seeing and his magical presence. He was a renaissance man, a painter, sculptor, author of over 20 books and creator, with his wife Claske, of Pacem in Terris, a public oasis of peace and beauty filled with his inspired works of art. He inspired us throughout with his boundless creativity, his irrepressible humor, his indomitable spirit and his generosity of heart. He will be greatly missed.
Ralph: Frederick, I would like to ask you about your early life. I know you were born in Maastricht in the Netherlands, and in many ways your life has spanned this whole century.

Franck: For me, the century began on the 4th of August, 1914 when I was five years old. On that day, I remember walking with my grandfather and seeing a proclamation pasted on a wall by the Dutch army. I also remember the first bombardment of Visey, which is a little town 16 kilometers south of Maastricht. I saw a zeppelin fly over–sometimes I think I imagined it, but I remember my father saying, “Look at that!” Then, almost at once, endless files of refugees started to trek over the border past our house. It is as clear to me as if it happened yesterday. I remember an old man in this endless file of people. He was carrying a little cage with a canary in it. I was standing there eating grapes, which I started to throw. It was a kind of impudent gesture of compassion.