(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.
Social activism is quietly reflected in Friebert’s early art where he displays empathy and sorrow without anger. Social concerns, the human universals of loss and vulnerability after two world wars, the Great Depression and the Cold War give Friebert’s art a narrative character.
Nevertheless, 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 1932. He studied with Gerrit V. Sinclair at the Layton School of Art where he would later teach art and also studied with Robert von Neumann and Ruth Grotenrath.
After earning a degree in art education in 1945, Friebert joined the UW–Milwaukee art faculty. He 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...