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 David Fredenthal  (1914 - 1958)

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Lived/Active: California/New York/Michigan / Italy      Known for: urban genre-view, figure, illustrations

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David Fredenthal
An example of work by David Friedenthal
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
David Fredenthal (1914 - 1958) was one ot America's most respected watercolor artists.  He was famous for his bold, intensely vigorous and complex paintings and drawings that expressed his deep feeling for excitement with life and living. He was a draftsman with seemingly a special gift for catching anything, physically and emotionally on the spot, and he never went anywhere without three or four loaded pens and a sketchbook in his pocket.

As part of the WPA project he executed a number of murals including the Sports Pavilion on the Heinz Building of the New York World's Fair 1939.  Some of his fresco and mural techniques were inspired by his friendship with Diego Rivera who had admired and encouraged him in the early 1930's.

After he won a traveling scholarship to Europe from The Museum of Modern Art at age 19, he was the recipient of two Guggenheim grants in Painting.  He had his first solo exhibition at the Downtown Gallery in New York in 1937 at age 23, and many others after that including the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1947.

Because of Fredenthal's prodigious drawing gifts, he was chosen by Erskine Caldwell to illustrate his novel “Tobacco Road” in 1940.  He was a War Artist Correspondent for both the State Department (the European and Asian fronts) and Life magazine from 1943 to 1946 and his work was featured in Life magazine regularly during the war and after until the end of his life.
Also featured in Life in 1956 were drawings that Fredenthal had vividly recorded on his sketch pad, of the entire filming of the movie, The Pride and the Passion, starring Cary Grant, Sophia Loren, and Frank Sinatra, along the treacherous mountain passes of Spain.

Though he was fiercely committed to an art that expressed deeply human social values and issues and was quite hostile to abstraction, he was friendly with a number of abstract artists such as David Smith, Ad Reinhardt, Philip Guston, Paul Feeley, and Herman Cherry.



These Notes from AskART represent the beginning of a possible future biography for this artist. Please click here if you wish to help in its development:
Born in Detroit, MI in 1914.  Frendenthal worked on WPA art projects in the 1930s, served in WWII as a correspondent-artist, and later covered stories for Life magazine. 

Exh:  Calif. WC Society, 1940-43; Kennedy Gallery (NYC), 1958.
Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from Butler Institute of American Art:
David Fredenthal- Born in Detroit, Michigan, 1914.

One of the civilian artists assigned to the War Department Art Program in 1943, he served with the South Pacific War Art Unit and later became a Life Magazine artist-correspondent in the Pacific.

He died in Rome, Italy in 1958.

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