Tribute to Herbert W. Franke – two projects launched

Herbert W. Franke: „Lichtformen coloriert“ – Generative Photography (1952-57)
(c) Susanne Paech

Herbert W. Franke, a pioneer of computer art who anticipated the metaverse, passed away on July 16 at the age of 95. About 80 of the most renowned generative artists, photographers, poets, and virtual world builders working today were invited by art meets science – Foundation Herbert W. Franke to honor his life and work.

Herbert W. Franke
(c) Susanne Paech

A percentage of the proceeds from the sales is donated by each artist. The artists’ donations will be used by the art meets science – Foundation Herbert W. Franke for two earmarked projects. Herbert W. Franke’s archive has been housed at the ZKM | Center for Arts and Media Karlsruhe since 2017. 20,000 EUR will be donated to the ZKM so that more than 1,800 manuscripts by Franke can be digitized and made accessible to the public. Together with the RÜTGERS Foundation, the Foundation Herbert W. Franke will also use the donations to support young people in Namibia to learn computer science and programming. The agreements for two projects made possible by the artists’ donations are closed and will begin in 2023.



The artists minted the NFTs on their preferred blockchain and platform for the Tribute to Herbert W. Franke. They released unique pieces, editions, and generative art projects (on Art Blocks and fxhash). Among the artists are leading figures from blockchain art such as Kevin Abosch, Casey Reas and Deafbeef, and from generative art such as Harm van den Dorpel who is known for his iconic project “Mutant Garden Seeder”, and Iskra Velitchkova, the highest selling female artist on the Tezos blockchain.

The curators Anika Meier, an expert in digital art and NFTs who worked with among others Marina Abramovic on her first NFT drop, and Susanne Paech, wife of Herbert W. Franke and CEO of the Foundation, invited old and new friends of the artist who passed away this summer at the age of 95. When Franke joined Twitter on March 8, 2022, his account @HerbertWFranke gained 10,000 followers in 24 hours. Over 15,000 people liked and retweeted his first tweet. His first NFT drop sold out within 30 seconds on one of the leading NFT platforms, Quantum, in June 2022. The purpose was fundraising for the establishment of the Foundation Herbert W. Franke.

Franke’s new friends, whom he has met over the past months on Twitter, created work reflecting his thoughts and ideas, while his old friends, companions, and colleagues donated works for the foundation’s collection Franke & Friends and wrote down memories. Among them, Vera Molnár (98), the grande dame of digital art, and Frieder Nake (84), a pioneer of generative art. He wrote about his friend since the sixties: “A maker since the 1950s was driven by some hidden force inside to bring into the world something that, just now, did not exist yet but that his mind told him to bring about”.



The donations will go toward two projects for which the Foundation already signed agreements in December. One with the ZKM | Center for Arts and Media Karlsruhe, where Herbert W. Franke’s archive has been housed since 2017, including over 1,800 manuscripts by Franke from over seventy years. 20.000 Euros will help ZKM digitize these manuscripts and make them available to the public online in the second half of 2023. The second project, launched by the Foundation Herbert W. Franke together with the RUETGERS Foundation, will support young people in Namibia with the project “Informatics for Namibian Schools” by developing a curriculum with hands-on exercises in computer science, robotics, and programming. The project is supported by UNESCO. The Phase 1 agreement for 50.000 Euros has already been signed.

Herbert W. Franke – a Pioneer of Art and Science

Herbert W: Franke: „Cellular Automata“ – PC program (1994) – (c) Susanne Paech

Herbert W. Franke was a pivotal figure who bridged the gap between art and science. He was a scientist, science fiction author, curator, mathematician, physicist, and speleologist. In 1979, he co-founded Ars Electronica. Franke has been called “the most prominent German science fiction writer” by Die Zeit, and a “great storyteller” by the FAZ. As a literary writer, he was a pioneer of virtual worlds, beginning with the publication of his first collection of short stories entitled DER GRÜNE KOMET (Munich: Goldmann, 1960).

As early as 1957, Franke demonstrated in his book ART AND CONSTRUCTION (Munich: Verlag F. Bruckmann) that technology “opens up new, entirely uncharted artistic territory.” In the course of more than 70 years, Franke consistently explored new terrain with the aid of analytical methods and machines, looking ahead to the future of digital art until he arrived in the metaverse as an artist and curator in the early 2000s. He began experimenting with generative photography in 1953, used an analogue computer in 1954, created his abstract algorithmic art on the first mainframe computers in the 1960s and 1970s, and began to write his own software on Apple II in 1980.

Franke was also a pioneer in the development of digital art, which he helped shape over a few decades from the very beginning as a publicist and curator. At the Venice Biennale in 1970, he was represented with a silkscreen from his QUADRATE series, his first work created with a digital computer. QUADRATE was the result of the interplay between chance and algorithm.

From the beginning, Herbert W. Franke viewed mathematics, with its abstract world of formulas, as the essence of visual art. He saw the algorithmic code as the heart of the art creation. He saw the artist as the analytical creator who uses mathematical methods to create forms and structures and assigned the computer the task of modulating these principles of order through various random processes. Franke always viewed the computer as a partner of the artist, not only as a tool. He was searching for known or newly discovered mathematical principles or new machines that he could use for his artistic experiments. Opportunities and dangers in the field of tension between science and technology, society and the individual, were also at the center of his award-winning utopian novels and stories.

art meets science – Foundation of Herbert W. Franke was officially founded in August 2022. It was initiated in spring 2022 by Herbert W. Franke and his wife, Susanne Paech. The Foundation Herbert W. Franke promotes connections between art and science in publications or exhibitions and supports projects in this field in science and education. 




Jürgen Claus, Thomas Franke, Hein Gravenhorst, Heinrich und Benjamin Heidersberger, Karl Martin Holzhaeuser, Gottfried Jaeger, Edgar Knoop, William Kolomyjec, Josef Linschinger, Tomislav Mikulic, Vera Molnár, Frieder Nake, Sylvia Roubaud, Mechthild Schmidt Feist, Reiner Schneeberger, Christa Sommerer & Laurent Mignonneau, Anne Spalter, T. Michael Stevens, Derrick Woodham.


Kevin Abosch, Agoria, Kim Asendorf, Justin Aversano, Loren Bednar, Ryan Bell, Christian Bök, Ana Maria Caballero, Jonathan Chomko, Stefano Contiero, Sofia Crespo, Sterling Crispin, CryptoWiener, Jeff Davis, Brendan Dawes, 0xDeafbeef, Harm van den Dorpel, Figure31/Loucas Braconnier, Fingacode, Julien Gachadoat, John Gerrard, Gin, Eric de Giuli, Alexander Grasser, Andreas Gysin, Leander Herzog, Aleksandra Jovanić, Mario Klingemann, Jan Robert Leegte, Lawrence Lek, Anna Lucia, Jonas Lund, Maya Man, Tim Maxwell, Sarah Meyohas, Operator, P1xelboy, Aaron Penne, Phlins, Casey Reas, Sarah Ridgley, Manuel Rossner, Sylvia Roubaud, Rafaël Rozendaal, Rudxane, Helena SarinMarcel Schwittlick, Travess Smalley, Snowfro, Sam Solooki, Marcelo Soria-Rodriguez, Anne Spalter, T. Michael Stephens, Sasha Stiles, Ivona Tau, UBERMORGEN, Iskra Velitchkova, Whistlegraph, Emily Xie, Yazid, Harry Yeff & Trung Bao, Zancan. 


Find all works and texts on

More informations about Herbert W. Franke and the Foundation on

Press contacts art meets science – Foundation Herbert W. Franke:

Susanne Paech
Anika Meier

art meets science – Foundation Herbert W. Franke
c/o mce mediacomeurope GmbH
Bavariafilmplatz 3
82031 Gruenwald

Media Contact

Susanne Päch
mce mediacomeurope GmbH

All latest news from the category: Awards Funding

Back to home

Comments (0)

Write a comment

Newest articles

The magnet trick: New invention makes vibrations disappear

TU Wien (Vienna) has patented a completely new method of dampening vibrations. This is an important step for precision devices such as high-performance astronomical telescopes. When everything shakes, precision is…

A new approach to accelerate the discovery of quantum materials

A collaboration yields a powerful combination of high-throughput computation and precise fabrication techniques to accelerate the discovery of quantum defects. Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory…

New antidote for cobra bites discovered

Cheap, available drug could help reduce impact of snakebites worldwide. Scientists at the University of Sydney and Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine have made a remarkable discovery: a commonly used…

Partners & Sponsors