Frédéric Back


Frédéric Back 1924-2013

2011 Cultural Cultural

Acclaimed around the world, the works of Frédéric Back never fail to impress. They have stirred and continue to stir the imaginations of young and old alike.

Born in Germany to Alsatian parents, Frédéric Back moved to Montréal in 1948 and began his career as a teacher at the École du meuble de Montréal and the École des beaux-arts de Montréal. In 1952, he began working for Radio-Canada as an illustrator and set, model and visual effects designer for a number of educational, cultural and science shows. During these years, he worked for a wide range of shows and produced animated sequences for the ballet The Firebird, broadcast as part of Beaux Dimanches on Radio-Canada in 1979. This work earned him a Golden Prague and an Emmy Award in 1980.

Produced in 1970, his first animation film, Abracadabra, was presented to the European Broadcasting Union in Copenhagen and was then bought by television networks in nine countries. This initial success was followed by eight other films written and animated by Back. He was nominated four times for an Academy Award and twice won the Best AnimatedFilm award, first for Crac! in 1982 and then for The Man Who Planted Trees in 1987. The latter film also won more than 40 awards at film festivals around the world.

Many people can admire his work and draw inspiration from it in everyday life. Frédéric Back, known primarily for his film work, is also a stained glass artist, muralist, interior designer and poster designer. In the 1960s, he created a number of stained glass windows for churches and public places, including for the Place-des-Arts metro station in 1967.

In addition to being a very talented artist, Frédéric Back has put his body of work at the service of causes he cares about, becoming a pioneer of the environmental movement. A founding member of the Society to Overcome Pollution and the Société québécoise pour la défense des animaux, as well as a member of a good number of organizations dedicated to protecting the environment, he is a regular contributor at schools on the topic of animation and the environment. He also illustrates books and posters and continues to plant trees.

His involvement in environmental causes earned Frédéric Back a number of honours. In 2005, he received an honorary Physis for his awareness-raising activities. He was inducted in the Cercle des Phénix de l’environnement in 2007, and as a member of the organization Les artistes pour la paix, in 2010 he received an award that paid tribute to his social involvement and his fight against nuclear weapons.

Frédéric Back is a Knight of the Ordre national du Québec, an Officer of the Order of Canada and an Officer of France’s Ordre des arts et des lettres.