* 15 May 1918 in Berlin; † 7 March 2010 in Berlin
German painter and graphic artist
Living under personal threat by National Socialism and War, Wolfgang Frankie is only after 1945 able to develop his artistic capabilities. Throughout all the stages of his creative work he combines abstraction and objectivity. By means of his emotionally charged colours he quite often creates a distressingly melancholic, unfathomable or threatening atmosphere, the consequence of his lifelong attempt to come to terms with the world.
As a child, Frankenstein is given drawing lessons by Paul Kuhfuss. From 1933 to 1937 he takes a nude-drawing course with the painter Max Kaus in evening classes at the school of arts and crafts in Berlin-Charlottenburg. Being called up for military service in 1939, he is unable to start the planned course of studies. In 1941 he is dismissed from service – as a “half-Jew”, he is regarded as “unworthy of doing military service”. He begins a course of studies at the college of fine and applied arts in Berlin. Here he makes friends with Waldemar Grzimek and Gerhard Moll. In 1942 Frankenstein, once more prohibited from studying, is conscripted to labour service. His father is 1943 deported by the National Socialists to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, his mother is imprisoned for half a year. Frankenstein himself is interrogated for five days by the Gestapo. When in 1944 he is ordered to report for service in a labour camp of the Organization Todt, he attempts to commit suicide. The time up to the end of the Nazi regime he spends in the mental hospital of Berlin-Nikolassee.
After the war, Frankenstein belongs to the regulars of the gallery Gerd Rosen in West Berlin, which has been established as the first post-war gallery in Germany. With artists that had been banned until then, the gallery soon becomes the centre of Berlin’s avant-garde. From 1948 to 1951, as the gallery’s artistic director, Frankenstein exercises a strong influence on it. In 1949 he presents a solo exhibition of his own. From 1952 to 1955 he is a master-class student of Heinrich Ehmsen at the German academy of arts in East Berlin. Frankenstein publicly opposes the remilitarization in West Germany. He moves in 1953 to East Berlin. In the decades that follow, he creates large mural paintings for public space as well as monumental panel paintings. In 1962, Frankenstein is appointed professor of theory and practice of fine arts at the university of Greifswald. From 1968 to 1983 he is in charge of the institute of art education of Berlin’s Humboldt University. Inspired by Mexican mural painting he, together with his student Hartmut Hornung, in 1986 creates a mural-painting cycle about the history of the German Labour Movement in the Berlin underground station Magdalenenstraße. He does a doctorate in 1977, followed in 1980 by his habilitation. In 1979 he is appointed honorary president of the UNESCO’s Association d’Art Plastique.