Frank Johnson

A prolific portrait painter who taught commercial art, drawing and painting at Bradford Regional
College of Art from 1952 to 1980. After retirement Frank continued to visit the Art School to draw in the life classes.

Frank, born in Leicester in 1917, worked as a commercial artist until the WWII, when he was enlisted into the Royal Air Force. In 1947 he went to study painting at Leicester College of Art and in 1952 was appointed as a tutor at Bradford Regional College of Art. Frank continued to work at the Art School until 1980 and even after that he was a frequent visitor to the life drawing classes held in the evenings.

During his time at Bradford, Frank taught many people who were later to find fame particularly David Hockney, David Oxtoby, John Loker, Tony Bevan and Doug Binder. Frank and another tutor, Derek Stafford, often used to exhibit at the Royal Academy and in 1957 they persuaded David Hockney to submit pictures for the Academy’s Summer exhibition, and of course he was accepted. Frank gave David Hockney support and encouragement at Bradford, supporting his transfer from the commercial art course to the painting course.

Frank exhibited frequently throughout his life particularly in Yorkshire. His work was included in the Four Artists exhibition at Bradford City Art Gallery in 1961 and in 1964 exhibited in Yugoslavia at The Museum of Modern Art. Frank’s work is included in public collections in Bradford, Leeds and Glasgow and shows the influences of Sickert and particularly the Euston Road School (an art school which gave its name to a group of English painters, active in London between 1937 and 1939.The painters emphasized naturalism and realism).

Frank’s work is noted for its tenderness and compassion, particularly the life drawing which shows great sensitivity. Frank output was great. He often enjoyed drawing and painting his students and fellow colleagues, many of whom today treasure the portraits that Frank painted of them.

Photograph by Andy Vaines