Frank Johnson was born in Leicester in 1917. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1953 and 1965, in local galleries and alongside David Hockney at an exhibition of Yorkshire Artists at the Museum of Modern Art in Skopje, Yugoslavia.
A modest man, Frank Johnson's true vocation was teaching. He joined the Bradford Art College in 1952 where he taught David Hockney in Commercial Design and Anatomy. His life drawing classes were notoriously impromptu, with students and work colleagues being asked to sit for him at their break times. Dudley Edwards one of Frank’s former pupils said of the artist’s; “Frank Johnson, was the biggest influence on all of us and very inspirational. Unlike some lecturers who had hung up their brushes to teach, he was a practising artist who painted in front of us in the studio. Lots of the best art students did graphics because they didn’t have the necessary 5 ‘O’ Levels to do fine art. Myself, Doug Binder, John Loker, Norman Stevens, Michael Vaughan and David Oxtoby – we were all frustrated fine artists looking with envy into the fine art department. " “I vividly remember the Art School (then in the building that is now Grove Library) had an amazing smell of paint and linseed oil soaked into the floorboards which gave it a lovely atmosphere. There was a kind of excitement in the air, partly a carry over from Hockney, who was then making a name for himself in the art world. It was the place to be”. Frank Johnson gave David Hockney great encouragement at Bradford, supporting his transfer from the commercial art course to the painting course.
An incredibly versatile artist, Johnson’s natural style combines the ‘Kitchen Sink School’ with the ‘Euston Road School,’ but there are also influences of French school artists such as Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard.
A retrospective was held in 1983 in Bradford curated by one of his former pupils. Frank Johnson died in 1998 at the age of 81.