Great art deserves to be seen.
I mean all kinds of art. From prose to poetry to paintings to plays, these things must be experienced, appreciated, and felt. Creative work deserves an audience. Art cries out to move someone and the better it is the louder it cries.
Many things can never be experienced again. The original performance of Hamlet at the Globe theater, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the missing paintings of DaVinci have been lost to the mists of time. Other things are ephemeral; used and then discarded. The BBC production of The Caves of Steel from 1964, for example, was shown and then erased. As far as anyone knows it no longer exists. Imagine Michaelangelo’s David as an ice sculpture.
Still, the sheer amount of stuff that deserves to be seen to which we could call attention must be mindboggling. It’s probably being produced faster than it could be consumed. Getting it all out there is likely an impossibility; that isn’t a reason not to try.
And so, we come to the point. A body of work that deserves to be seen exists in my little corner of the universe. This small part of the unfathomable mass of art-worth-seeing is a piece I can do something about.
The gentleman pictured below is my grandfather, Joseph Franké.
He was a nationally known pen-and-ink illustrator whose work appeared in Boy’s Life, Women’s World, Blue Book, Red Book, and more. He illustrated significant novels like When Worlds Collide, by Phillip Wylie and Edwin Balmer, Why Didn’t They Ask Evans by Agatha Christie, and The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett when each originally appeared in Blue or Red Book. According to a newspaper account of his memorial service, he was “considered by many art critics the finest in his field”
The point of this website is to put his work somewhere it can be found, seen, and enjoyed. There’s an excellent biography that can be found at A Field Guide to Wild American Pulp Artists. I wish I could remember more stories about my grandfather but sadly, he passed away about 30 years before I was born. I remember the story that David Saunders relates in that bio where he would leave in the morning with paintings to sell and return, having sold them, with candy for his children. I recall stories about building his studio attached to the back of the house and about the jubilation that followed getting a contract from Red Book Magazine to be the regular illustrator of their novels. My mom loved a story involving a litter of kittens; her dad baptized each one with a drop of something from the liquor cabinet, awarding each with an appropriate name. Growing up we had two cats, each named Wooski, in honor of the Whisky from that story. Mostly I remember the admiration that the family felt for his legacy. That admiration has been passed on to me.
And, so, here we have it: a website dedicated to the art and legacy of Joseph Franké. I hope you’ll enjoy it.