Frank (Franz) Johnston

About Frank (Franz) Johnston

Frank (Franz) Johnston

Group of Seven member Francis Hans (Franz) Johnston (b. Toronto, 1888-1949) was apprenticed as a jewelry designer in Germany in 1904 with studies at the Ontario College of Art. In 1911, he worked at the commercial art firm Grip, Ltd. where he met future members of the Group. In 1910, Johnston left to study art in Philadelphia and to work in commercial design in New York.

In the years before the war, he returned to Canada and painted the landscape around Toronto, Algonquin Park and northward. In 1918, he painted in Algoma with Lawren Harris and J.E.H. MacDonald.

Johnston was a prolific and ambitious artist producing 200 paintings for a large one-man show at the T. Eaton Company Galleries in 1919. And in 1920, he exhibited in Toronto with the newly formed Group of Seven. In 1921, he left Toronto to become Principal at the Winnipeg School of Art but returning to teaching at the Ontario College of Art later in the 1920s. He formally resigned from the Group in 1924. In 1927, he changed his name to Franz Johnston.

In later years, Johnston’s style became increasingly realistic and revealed a strong fascination with the qualities of light. Over his career, Johnston achieved considerable financial success. He died in Toronto in 1949 and was buried with his fellow artists at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ont.

Past Exhibitions