Franz Jansen was born in Cologne in 1885. From 1906 to 1910 he studied architecture in Vienna and then traveled throughout Europe for a year before returning to Cologne in 1911. The following year, Jansen joined the Berlin Secession and participated in the Sonderbund exhibition held in Cologne. He had a one-man exhibition at the Wallraf-Richartz Museum in Cologne in 1914.
Jansen expressed his annoyance with art critics and historians in the 1918 manifesto, entitled “About Expressionism”. He felt that the critics were too quick to label new movements, such as Cubism, Futurism and Expressionism. His approach was called “five o’clock tea aesthetics” and his thought was that art should be more accepting of activism and should strive to depict real life.
From 1918 to 1925 Jansen produced prints for publication in the political journal “Die Aktion”. He participated in two exhibitions devoted to the Neue Sachlichkeit movement in 1927 and 1929, joined by fellow artists, Schad, Seiwert, and Gerta Overbeck-Schenk, among others.
Throughout the early 1930s, Jansen continued to take part in various exhibits, until 1937, when the Nazis confiscated 157 of his works from museums and institutions throughout the country. In 1944, he was drafted into the army and after the war he continued to exhibit his work until his death in 1958 in Büchel.