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Emmett John Fritz

 (1917 - 1995)
Emmett John Fritz was active/lived in Florida, New York.  Emmett Fritz is known for landscape and marine painting, cartoon, caricature.

Biography  
Emmett John Fritz


Biography from the Archives of askART

Biography photo for Emmett John Fritz
Emmett John Fritz  
 
The painter and illustrator professionally known as Emmett John Fritz (born John Emmett Fritz) was born on October 13, 1917 in Kansas City, Missouri. He studied art at Pratt Institute in New York graduating in 1937. Pratt Institute is a higher-learning graduate institution built with a focus on the fine arts, engineering, and architecture. Fritz also worked with Norman Rockwell for a brief period, becoming a known magazine and newspaper cartoonist for a comic strip called Roxie West, as well as an illustrator, before a move to Florida in 1950.

Florida was a popular destination for many professionals because of commercial aspects surrounding tourism and for the State’s natural and exotic beauty. In Florida, Fritz discovered the city of St. Augustine. He also became committed to serious easel painting and watercolor at this time. His primary subjects were the St. Augustine landscape, capturing scenes of everyday life in the quaint walled city, and the architecture of the city.

Although he had an indoor studio on St. George Street, Fritz preferred painting outside on city sidewalks and in a swift manner to capture the great vivacity of the bustling city. As an integral member of the city of St. Augustine, he is known to “have loved people, which you can see because people loved Emmett” said Andrew Kenneth Gay, a local art gallery owner in a St. Augustine Record article entitled, “The Great Search for Emmett Fritz,” in September of 2002. Gay continued, "The wonderful thing about Emmett was not just the paintings, but the stories that he told that went with them." In 2004, the anniversary of his death in 1995 in St. Augustine, a group of townspeople organized the Emmett Fritz Memorial Exhibition to celebrate Fritz’s leadership in making St. Augustine a popular tourist destination for art afficionados from all over the United States and abroad.
 
The city of St. Augustine is a historic, coastal city founded in 1565 with a definite Spanish heritage. Much of Fritz’s artwork depicts the colorful, traditional Spanish architecture of the walled city as a framework for the temperamental weather changes  of a semi- tropical environment that often transform the look of the city. Like many artists who visited or moved to St. Augustine between the 1930s and 1950s, Fritz painted the many incarnations of America’s oldest city in hundreds of colorful and romantic images.

Fritz adopted and perfected an impressionistic, painterly style that enabled him to capture the light and movement reflected in his artwork through his distinctive application of impasto and vigorous brushstroke. In Key Shrimper, ca. 1965, Fritz captures  movement in the scene. A sense of motion can be observed in the way he paints the water, clouds, and even the palm tree--the palm swaying from the breeze, the clouds are swiftly passing by, the boat is rocked gently by the tide, and the water ripples and shines, reflecting the dazzling Florida sunlight with his characteristic use of white pigment. This highly painterly style, paired with his use of rich colors throughout his painting exhibits the vibrancy and life of the dockside.

In contrast, View of Old Fort Castillo de San Marco is strikingly still, portraying a silent and serene topographical architecture. A master of light and shadow, Fritz depicts the intense midday light that enlivens color using a highly tinted palette. Saturated color is still seen in the flowers, and the shadows cast from the diagonal light through the ivy that guides the viewer’s eye in a circular motion throughout the painting.
 
Fritz is arguably considered one of the most significant and popular painters of the St. Augustine and St. Johns County area. While capturing the beauty of the city and the surrounding areas, he became a well-known and beloved character of the greater St. Augustine area. His optimistic, colorful portrayals of the city, in all of its varied personalities, also suggests, to many critics of Florida painting, a sense of romantic melancholy and yearning.

As a member of the St. Augustine Arts Club now known as the Arts Association of St. Augustine, he contributed profoundly to the growth of art in the area as he helped to stimulate a growing Florida School of Art. Information on the significance of Fritz and his prolific body of oil paintings and watercolors may be found in Robert Torcia’s The Lost Colony : Artists of St. Augustine 1930-1950 and in Reflections : Paintings of Florida 1865-1965 by Gary R. Libby.   

Works Cited
 
1.     Gay, Andrew Kenneth. "The great search for Emmett Fritz." The St. Augustine Record, 27 Sep. 2002, http://staugustine.com/stories/092702/com_1008581.shtml#.WJfYvLYrLfY. Accessed 31 Jan. 2017. Jean Light Willis, a local painter in St. Augustine, is quoted from an article from the St. Augustine Record by Andrew Kenneth Gray. Willis has an art gallery in St. Augustine that features her plein aire paintings, and was the one who suggested the Emmett Fritz Memorial Exhibit.

2.     Gay, Andrew Kenneth. "The great search for Emmett Fritz." The St. Augustine Record, 27 Sep. 2002, http://staugustine.com/stories/092702/com_1008581.shtml#.WJfYvLYrLfY. Accessed 31 Jan. 2017. Kay Burton, former Executive Director of the St. Augustine Art Association, is quoted from an article from the St. Augustine Record by Andrew Kenneth Gray. Burton supported the idea of a memorial exhibit in honor of Fritz’s passing, and praises Fritz as the artist who contributed most to the growth of tourism in St. Augustine.

3.     Moynihan, Cornelia. "Emmett John Fritz." AskArt, May 2006, http://www.askart.com/artist/Emmett_John_Fritz/11000777/Emmett_John_Fritz.aspx Accessed 31 Jan. 2017.

4.     Sikorski, John. "Emmett Fritz noted for his paintings of St. Augustine." The Gainesville Sun, 14 Feb. 2015, http://www.gainesville.com/news/20150214/emmett-fritz-noted-for-his-paintings-of-st-augustine/1. Accessed 1 Feb. 2017.

5.     Torchia, Robert. Lost Colony: The Artists of St. Augustine, 1930-1950. Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., http://www.tfaoi.com/aa/3aa/3aa288a.htm. Accessed 1 Feb. 2017.
 

Written by Karen Jeong, Honors College Student of Gary R. Libby at the University of Florida and submitted by Gary R. Libby, who is also the author of Reflections: Paintings of Florida 1865-1965.
  



Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Emmett John Fritz

The following additional  information was submitted by Cornelia C. Moynihan in May of 2006:

Emmett Fritz 1917-1995  New York/Florida

Emmett Fritz was born John Emmett Fritz October 13, 1917 in Kansas City and died in Florida on November 29, 1995.  He studied at Pratt Institute in 1937, and  studied briefly with the noted Norman Rockwell. He painted landscapes in New England through the late 1930's and 1940's, and also worked as an illustrator and as cartoonist for the comic strip "Roxie West".

In 1950, he left New York and moved to St. Augustine, Florida, where he became an active and much-loved member of the thriving artists' community. A prolific painter in both oil and watercolor,  Fritz had great success in his own colorful impressionist style depicting Carribbean islands and particularly street scenes of St. Augustine and Palm Beach.

One of his paintings is featured in the Lightner Museum publication Lost Colony: The Artists of St Augustine, 1930-1950 by Robert W Torchia, and in 2004, a major retrospective show "Emmett Fritz Memorial Exhibit" was sponsored jointly by the St Augustine Art Association and the St Augustine Historical Society.  His work is in a number of museums and private collections, including the collection of King Juan Carlos of Spain. He is also listed in the publication Coast to Coast by Gary Libby and other references.




Biography from the Archives of askART
Biography photo for Emmett John Fritz
The following information is from Jean Troemel:

John Emmett Fritz was born October 13, 1917 in Kansas City and died November 29, 1995.  He studied at Pratt Institute in 1937, and was a cartoonist for the comic strip Roxie West in the 1940's.  In 1950, he moved to St. Augustine, Florida.

He is represented in local and regional museums and collections including the collection of King Juan Carlos of Spain.

Fritz painted in the tradition of late 19th and 20th landscapes and cityscapes plus Carribbean islandscapes and particularly street scenes of St. Augustine.  He is included in publication Coast to Coast by Gary Libby, 1999 Library of  Congress Catalog Card no. 98-067011.


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Biography photo for Emmett John Fritz




About  Emmett John Fritz

Born:  1917 - Kansas City, Missouri
Died:   1995 - Florida
Known for:  landscape and marine painting, cartoon, caricature