(1908 - 2002)
Born in New York, Joseph Friebert grew up in Milwaukee in a Jewish working-class family where his father was a tailor and a union organizer.
Friebert’s artistic career was rather unconventional. After high school, he went on to become a registered pharmacist working at the Oriental Pharmacy in Milwaukee. Because Friebert could support himself as a pharmacist he was not eligible for the W.P.A. program during the Depression.
Consequently, he joined the Businessman’s Art Club and began his career as an artist in 1934. He studied with Gerrit V. Sinclair at the Layton School of Art where he would later teach art. He also studied with Robert von Neumann and was close friends with fellow Wisconsin artists, Ruth Grotenrath and Schomer Lichtner.
Friebert joined the art faculty of Milwaukee State Teachers College after earning his degree there in 1945. He later earned his Master’s degree at UW-Madison in 1951 and became a full professor in 1957. Friebert continued to teach at UW-Milwaukee until his retirement in 1976.
Although Friebert was a printmaker, painting was his main choice of media and reflects his knowledge of the Old Masters with underpainting and layers of glazes that give depth and luminosity. He painted the human form in many different environments but there is little interaction between them.
Social activism is quietly reflected in Friebert’s early art where...