Called one of Wisconsin’s greatest “living treasures” by the late James Auer, Milwaukee Journal art critic, Joseph Friebert (1908–2002) enjoyed a long and distinguished career, becoming one of the state’s leading artists and a beloved and influential teacher.
Friebert’s art reflects an overriding concern for the human condition. The figures in his often dimly lit Social Realist compositions of the late 1930s and 1940s—whether behind bars, in line-ups, picking coal, or walking city streets—seem stoic and melancholy. To enhance the pensive mood of his work, Friebert developed a form of “indirect painting,” adopting Old Master techniques involving the layering of pigments and glazes. This brooding quality is also found in his land- and cityscapes of the period.
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