Frank Freed

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Frank Freed

FRANK FREED (1906–1975)

 

Frank Freed was born in San Antonio, the only child of Louis and Fannie Freed, on February 15, 1906. In 1913 they moved to Houston and at a young age, Freed showed little signs of being an artist. Like most "folk" artists it wasn't until middle age or later when he began painting. Freed's parents brought him up exposed to contemporary adult issues being debated in their home and the community, such as women's suffrage and prohibition. They provided a strong background of civic and cultural affairs.

He studied literature at Harvard and pursued a career in journalism. Having graduated from Harvard in June 1927, he worked briefly in New York City, returned to Houston and then toured Europe in 1930. He tried writing briefly, but nothing materialized and instead worked with his father in the insurance business.

After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, he volunteered to join the Army in 1942. This experience was later seen as a liberation to him from a "too-comfortable routine in Houston." He traveled around Europe during the war, but it was his trip to Paris, that seemed to spark something inside of him. Like most artists, he was inspired by the night life, the street life, and the art exhibits. "Freed left France with experiences that had enriched his eye for the ironies and incongruities of life and with the idea of trying his hand at art." It seemed that he "could do something better" than what he had seen at the Paris exhibitions.

After his return from the war in 1947, he began courting an old friend, Eleanor, who later became his wife, and went on a week-long date in Manhattan, where he saw other inspiring exhibits. It was the exhibit of Ben Shahn that "floored" him at the Museum of Modern Art. Two months after the exhibition, he was enrolled in a painting class at the Museum School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

It was through painting, rather than writing that he found a way to express himself. "The world of art" is a common theme throughout his paintings during the 1950s, depicting artists, art classes, collectors, auctions, museums, and gallery openings. Freed's paintings can be described as, "flat, simplified, strongly defined by line, and filled in with unmodeled colors that establish lively patterns of color and tonal contrasts."

 

Selected Biographical and Career Highlights:

1906           Born in San Antonio, Texas

1927           BA, English Literature, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts

1942–46    Served in U. S. Army

1948–50    Student, Museum School, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

1950           Married Eleanor Kempner

1975           Died in Houston, Texas

 

Selected Exhibitions:

1948–49   10th Texas General Exhibition 1948-1949, circulated: Witte Museum, San Antonio; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

1949–52   24th–27th Annual Exhibit of Works by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

1950          Art of 49, Bute’s Art Gallery, Houston, Texas

1950          Art News National Amateur Painters’ Competition, Galleries of the National Academy of Design, New York, New York

1951           First Solo, Alley Theatre, Houston, Texas

1952           Paintings by the Harvard Class of 1927, Fogg Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts

1953–55    Annual Art Rental Exhibit, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas

1953           Festival of Jewish Art, Temple Emanuel, Houston, Texas

1954           29th Annual Exhibit of Works by Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

1956           Frank Freed Paintings, Alley Theater, Houston, Texas

1957          Opening Exhibition, Cushman Gallery, Houston, Texas

1958           Eight Paintings by Frank Freed, Rudi’s Restaurant, Houston, Texas

1958–60   33rd–35th Annual Houston Artists, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

1964          Jury Award Exhibition, Jewish Community Center, Houston, Texas

1964          Paintings by Frank Freed, Tall Timbers Club, Houston, Texas

1966          Show of Drawings, Jewish Community Center of Houston, Texas

1966          Made in Houston, Louisiana Gallery, Houston, Texas

1966          Six Southwest Artists, Kiko Galleries, Houston, Texas

1966          10th Anniversary Tekkei Kai Group Exhibition, Kyoto Municipal Museum, Japan

1966          Texas Painting and Sculpture Exhibition 1966, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas

1967          Invitational Group Show, Art League of Houston, Texas

1967          Annual Invitational Exhibit, Nicholson Memorial Library, Longview, Texas

1967          Dimension—Houston II 1967 Arts Festival Exhibit, Art League of Houston, Texas

1967          Artists of the Southeast and Texas Exhibition of Paintings and Sculpture, Delgado Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana

1968          Spring Jury Exhibition, Texas Fine Arts Association, Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin, Texas

1968          Dimension—Houston III, Art League of Houston, Texas

1968          33rd Annual, Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, Ohio

1968–69   Annual Sun Carnival Art Exhibition, El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas

1969          Paintings and Drawings from 1965 to 1969 by Frank Freed, Carol Lane Gallery, Houston, Texas

1970          Pinturas Recientes de Frank Freed, El Instituto Mexicano Notreamericano de Relaciones Culturales, Mexico City

1971          Dimension—Houston VI, Art League of Houston, Texas

1971          Main Street Art Happening, Houston Chamber of Commerce, Houston, Texas

1972          Paintings by Frank Freed, Meredith Long & Company, Houston, Texas

1972          Southwest Fine Arts Biennial, Museum of New Mexico, Albuquerque, New Mexico

1973          An American in France: Paintings by Frank Freed, Shamrock Hilton, Houston, Texas, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Alliance Française of Houston

1974          Frank Freed Paintings, Alley Theatre, Houston, Texas

1974          Annual Jury Award Art Exhibition, Jewish Community Center of Houston, Texas

1975          All Media Spring Membership Exhibit, Art League of Houston, Texas

1975          Houston Area Exhibition, Blaffer Gallery, University of Houston, Texas

1976          The American Jewish Festival, Congregation Emanu El, Houston, Texas

1978          Art and The Alphabet, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

1979          FIRE! Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas (catalogue)

1979          A Survey of Texas Naïve Artists, Witte Museum, San Antonio, traveled to: Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Laguna Gloria Art Museum, Austin; Tyler Museum of Fine Arts, Tyler, Texas

1980          Eyes of Texas. Texas Folk Artists, Lawndale Art Center, Houston, Texas

1982          A Peaceable Kingdom: Animals in Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

1982          In Our Time: Houston’s Contemporary Arts Museum, 1948–1982, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas (catalogue)

1983          Frank Freed: People and Places, Contemporary Arts Museum, Houston, Texas

1984         Houston Figurative Art, College of the Mainland, Texas City, Texas

1985          Americans at Play: Realism between the World Wars, Davis Gallery, Houston, Texas

1985          Americans at Work: Realism between the World Wars, Transco Energy Company, Houston, Texas

1986          Texas Seen—Texas Made, San Antonio Museum of Art, San Antonio, Texas

1989–90   Another Reality, Hooks-Epstein Galleries, Inc., Houston, Texas, traveled to: Arkansas Art Center, Little Rock; McNay Art Museum, San Antonio; and other venues

1994          Solo, Frank Freed: Paintings and Drawings, 1946–1975, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

1996          Solo, More Than a Constructive Hobby: The Paintings of Frank Freed, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas (catalogue)

2004          A Selection of Art Made in Houston 1950-1965, Brazos Projects, Brazos Bookstore, Houston, Texas

2006          Houston Art in Houston Collections: Works from 1900 to 1965, Heritage Society Museum, Houston, Texas

2011          Lone Star Modernism: A Celebration of Mid-Century Texas Art, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

2012          A Survey of Texas Modernists, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

2013          Rhythms of Modernism, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

2013          Summer Encore Exhibition, William Reaves Fine Art, Houston, Texas

2014          Houston Founders at City Hall Art Exhibition, City Hall, Houston, Texas

2014          A New Visual Vocabulary: Developments in Texas Modernism 1935-1965, One Allen Center, Lobby Gallery, Houston, Texas

2015          Bayou City Chic: Progressive Streams of Modern Art in Houston, Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, Texas (catalogue)

 

Selected Public Collections:

Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel

McNay Art Museum, San Antonio, Texas

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas

University of Texas at Austin, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, Austin, Texas

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