* 13 August 1911 in Offenbach; † 5 August 2008 in Bielefeld
German painter and set designer
During more than seven decades Erich Franke constantly surprised by mastering numerous artistic techniques. Under the influence of the art movements of the 1920s and 30s he creates abstract works in gouache or collages made of paper or leather at a very young age. Music and theatre inspire the artist and give spatial depth and dance dynamics to his artworks. After 1945 Franke incorporates everyday materials in his pictures and this way creates multi-layered, often three-dimensional works, e.g. Froissages and Paracollages.
From 1930 onwards Fanke studies painting, interior design, fashion and advertising graphics at the city's arts and crafts school. In 1934 he begins training as a stage and costume designer at the State Theatre in Wiesbaden and sets up an art studio for himself. In 1939 he starts working as a set designer in Heidelberg. His studio in Wiesbaden is destroyed during the war in 1944 and a most of his early artworks, set and costume designs are lost. In the same year he is called up for military service. After his return from Soviet captivity in 1946, he takes up his previous artistic activity and his experimental work. His first presentation with abstract works is shown in Heidelberg in 1949 as part of the “Musica Viva Days”.
Since Franke is most passionate about painting and wants to learn more about new developments in the art world, he studies panting at the art academy in Karlsruhe from 1954. Franke quits his job as a set designer in 1958 and works from now and as a freelance artist. In the same year he moves to Uelzen.
The construction of the Berlin wall in 1961 inspires him to create a series of black and white works. In 1963 Franke is one of the co-founders of the "Group G", whose members artistically deal with the construction of the Berlin Wall and the division of Germany. In 1972 the painter travels to Cyprus, where he witnesses the division of the island and subsequently processes his impressions in a series of Cyprus pictures.
In 1981 the artist moves to Bielefeld. The following year he designs his last set for the opera “Die Wundersame Schusterfrau” by Udo Zimmermann. Regular exhibitions have presented the artist's work since 1949. In 2017 his works are presented in the Haus der Stadtgeschichte in Offenbach and in 2019 in the Bernusstrasse art space in Frankfurt am Main.