Frederic Cornelius Koester (1923 - 2004)

Birth date: 1923 Death date: 2004  
Birth location: Death location:  
Media: Design , Graphic Art , Installation , Mural , Painting Web site:
Fair (file rating) - MWA artist file may include basic data, and additional newspaper articles, book references, exhibition information, and images that can be researched on site at MWA.


Frederic C. Koester

Born 1923 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Died 2004 in South Pasadena, Florida

Born in 1923 to Fred and Marion (née Leenhouts) Koester, Frederic C. Koester showed artistic ability at a very early age and went on to a highly successful career.  A native of Fox Point he graduated from Shorewood High School. Given that he came from a family with tremendous creative abilities, this is perhaps not surprising. His maternal grandfather, Cornelius Leenhouts, was a prominent Wisconsin architect responsible for many churches, buildings and east side residences. His aunt and uncle, Willis and Lillian Leenhouts, also operated a respected and successful architectural firm.

His early artistic training was pivotal in his development. Under the tutelage of Charlotte Partridge, director of the Layton School of Art, he blossomed, before going on to Milwaukee State Teachers College where the young Fred flourished under the mentorship of master artist Robert von Neumann. He was a leader in a movement called “Young Artists Going Places.”

Leaving Milwaukee in 1945, Frederic traveled east to attend Columbia University in NYC. Living in Greenwich Village, funds were tight for the young artist and in order to finance his painting he worked at Schraff"s and sold blood to survive. A scholarship from The New York Art Students League helped keep body and soul together.

Moving on from New York in 1948 Fred moved to the Left Bank in Paris where he studied at Acadamie Julian. Using the French capital as a base he painted and traveled throughout Europe including over a year in the North African country of Morocco.

Fred’s paintings hung in many European galleries including La Galeria Saint-Placide and the famous Salon des Independents at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. Even so, his crowning tribute in the French capital was a one-man show, “Works of the American, Koester” at the prestigious Lucienne-Leonce Rosenburg Gallery that saw its initial run of one week extended to one month.

Upon his return to the United States he showed at many galleries around the country including several shows at Delius Gallery in New York City.

In addition to his paintings, Frederic also painted numerous murals. However, design work was an artistic avenue that suited Fred’s talents perfectly and he worked extensively for major companies such as Franklin Simon, Bergdorf Goodman, Lord and Taylor, Bambergers, IBM, Raymond Loewy Associates, Air France, Countess Mara as well as hotels in the US and Virgin Islands.

He also designed the 100th anniversary for Macy’s Department Store, the largest display of its kind to date. Additionally, he designed for the stage, advertising posters and record album covers.  Fred passed away October 7th of 2004 at his home in Pasadena, Florida.

Wisconsin Affiliations

No affiliations were found.

Wisconsin Art Organizations

No art organizations were found.

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