Alfred Frank was born into humble circumstances. Frank initially trained as a lithographer, and while working in the profession he also studied at the local school of arts and crafts. He later also began sculpting. He moved to Leipzig in 1906 and attended the evening classes of the Academy for Graphic Art and the Book Trade. In 1912, he finally enrolled to study there and to devote himself henceforth only to art; his teachers were Alois Kolb and Bruno Héroux. Frank had to interrupt his studies in 1915 on account of the First World War, and served as a soldier in Flanders and northern France.
After the end of the war, he resumed his studies at the Academy in Leipzig and became a master student of Alois Kolb. Frank joined the German Social Democratic Party (SPD) in 1906, and while a soldier he made contact with the Spartacus League. He was accordingly elected to the Workers’ and Soldiers’ Council, and joined the German Communist Party (KPD) in 1918. From then on, he placed his work as an artist in the service of the party. He also supported the workers’ drawing movement and is regarded as one of the co-founders of the Association of Revolutionary Visual Artists of Germany (ASSO), whose chairman he became.
After the National Socialists seized power in 1933, Frank was arrested; he was arrested again in 1934 and sentenced to six months in prison for “disseminating printed matter promoting high treason”. The contents of his studio were confiscated during a house search, and mostly destroyed. Nevertheless, Frank continued to produce linocuts, pamphlets and posters for the KPD and the Resistance. Frank was arrested by the Gestapo again on 19 July 1944, and was condemned to death on 23 November that year. Frank was executed in Dresden on 12 January 1945.