Frederick Monhoff Biography

Frederick Monhoff




Southern California-based architect, artist, and illustrator Frederick Monhoff was born in New York City on November 23, 1897. During his childhood his family moved to the West Coast and settled in Los Angeles. After serving in the U.S. Navy in World War I, Monhoff returned to California where he enrolled in art classes at University of California, Berkeley, serving on the staff of The Occident and graduating in 1921 with a Masters in Art. 

The painter, printmaker, and architect married essayist and poet Hildegarde Flanner in 1926, collaborating with her on several published works by contributing illustrations. This same year heralded the beginning of his teaching career, when he took a position at the Otis Art Institute (now the Otis College of Art and Design) where he would remain for twenty-four years. Monhoff began traveling to New Mexico in the late 1920’s, a pivotal time that encompassed his connection with New Mexico tribes whose lives and ceremonies he documented in a variety of artworks and publications. During his visits to Santa Fe, he used a portion of the basement of the Museum of New Mexico as a studio. An etching press had been set up which Monhoff shared with Willard Nash, Will Shuster and others.

The late 1920s also saw Monhoff's architectural career take hold, designing Art Deco and Modernist homes in Beverly Hills and Los Feliz Knolls to critical acclaim. This led to several commissions in Los Angeles, Pasadena, Malibu, and Palm Springs, including the Biltmore Hotel and several private residences, many of which still stand today. He was appointed the design architect for the Los Angeles County Architectural Divisions and in the 1940s he taught architecture at the University of California, Los Angeles, and at Pasadena Art Institute in 1959.

In 1962 Monhoff and his family relocated to Northern California, settling in Calistoga, Napa Valley. He died there in 1975.

His art affiliations included memberships in the California Society of Printmakers and the Chicago Society of Etchers.  Public collections holding his work include the Library of Congress, Los Angeles County Museum, Brooklyn Museum, M.H. de Young Memorial Museum, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum of New Mexico, the Harwood Museum of Art (NM), and the National Museum of American Art.
The Otis College of Art and Design founded a prize in Monhoff's honor as well as the Frederick Monhoff Printing Lab.