Robert Matthew Freimark Biography

Robert Matthew Freimark




Painter, printmaker, filmmaker, and educator Robert Matthew Freimark was born in Doster, Michigan, on January 27,1922, to Alvin Otto Freimark and Nora (Shinevar) Freimark. His family moved to Toledo, Ohio, in 1932. There, Friemark developed his boxing skills in Golden Gloves competitions before joining the U.S. Navy and serving in the Pacific from 1939 to 1946. After his return he enrolled at the University of Toledo on the G.I. Bill, graduating in 1950 with a BA in creative writing, as well the Toledo Museum of Art where he studied with Hal Lotterman and Harvey Littleton. He then received his MFA in painting from the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, studying architecture under Eliel Saarinen and sculpture under Carl Milles. He would also study with Max Weber and befriend Israel Abramofsky, whose Modernism influenced Friemark's early work.

Freimark began his extensive teaching career at the Toledo Museum of Art and at Ohio University in Athens following his studies. Meanwhile he produced art prodigiously while also lecturing and jurying art shows, and from 1959 to 1963 he was Artist-in-Residence at the Des Moines Art Center, Iowa. In 1961 Freimark and his family traveled extensively throughout Mexico, returning in 1963 to live in Mexico City for a year while he organized and exhibited a one-man show. They relocated to Morgan Hill, California in 1964, and Freimark began his 22-year teaching career at San Jose State University.

In the 1960s Freimark was the recipient of the "Rehabilitation Through Art" grant, which he used to open an art studio and teach in Soledad State Prison. He was active in the historic 1967-68 SJSU strike by the American Federation of Teachers, which sought "Third World Studies" for the university system, and he initiated a popular class on the history of Mexican Art. In 1970-71 Freimark took a year's sabbatical, traveling with his wife and daughter to 18 countries in Europe. With him he brought his "50 States" serigraphs to exhibit, opening first at the Moravian Museum in Brno, Czechoslovakia at the height of the Cold War. Further exhibitions and lectures were held in Denmark, England and Germany. At Vlnena Woolen Mills in Brno, Freimark was introduced to art protis, a form of textile art that layers pre-dyed wool, cut into the artist's design, through a loom with up to 20,000 "needles" that stitch the work together. This appealed to Friemark's painting sensibilities and for over 25 years he would travel annually to Brno to create tapestries.

In 1972-73 Freimark was Guest Artist at Harvard University's Carpenter Center for Visual Arts, where he was responsible for starting the lithographic studio. In 1981 he and Warren Haack filmed Dias de Los Muertos in Mexico. They collaborated on three more documentaries: Arte Cubano, Los Desaparecidos and Royal Chicano Air Force. Freimark set-up the Artist-in-Residence program for the National Parks, which he initiated at Yosemite in 1984. In the 1990's he helped sponsor art work to protect the landscape and wildlife at Elkhorn Slough, to protect it from destruction at the hands of development.

Well into Freimark's 80's, he continued work and travel, and would frequent various cultural events throughout the US and abroad. In 2007, at age 85, the Mexican Heritage Plaza in San Jose, CA hosted a solo retrospective of his work: "Freimark: Art of Dissent", and the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Tapestries held a concurrent exhibition of his art protis tapestries.

Robert Freimark died February 18, 2010, after prolonged illnesses. He was 88 years old.

Solo exhibitions:
1954: Rockefeller Center (sponsored by Prang Crayon Co.)
1959: Des Moines Art Center
1960: Minneapolis Institute of Art
1963: North American Cultural Institute, Mexico City
1965: Santa Barbara Museum of Art, CA
1970-71: Traveling exhibition: "Fifty States", Europe
1985: Visitor's Center, Yosemite National Park
1987: Joslyn Center for Arts, Torrance, CA
1990: Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, CA; Stara Radnice, Brno, and Strahov Kloster, National Palace, Prague
1992: Galerie Katinae (Studio of Corot), St. Ceneri le Gerei, France
2000: Art Expo: NYC, 2000
2002: Dakar Biennale, Senegal

Group Exhibitions:
1952: "Drawings of 12 Countries", Chicago Art Institute, IL; Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art (Lambert Fund Prize)
1960: Brooklyn Print Biennial, Brooklyn Museum of Art (Purchase Award)
1963: International Watercolor Biennial, Brooklyn Museum of Art
1980: Olympic Games, Moscow, American representative
1989: "Enrichments of the Print Cabinet", Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris
1991: "Screen Prints 1930s - 1950s", Boston Museum of Fine Arts
1994: Tapestry and painting installation, Hotel Cosima, Tokyo, Japan
1995: Japan Contemporary Arts and Crafts (invited), Japan
1996: "National Works on Paper", University of Hilo, Hawaii
1997: Boston Print Symposium, Harvard and Boston Museum (invited); Museum of Arts Downtown Los Angeles, CA; Graphic Arts International, Portland Museum of Art, OR (Purchase Award)
1997-98: International Print Trienniel, Krakow, Poland
1998: "LIthography After 200 Years", Honolulu Academy of Fine Arts, HI
2002: Mini Print International, Cadaques, Spain (traveling exhibition)
2003: Egyptian International Print Triennial, Cairo; Dahlonega International Film Festival, Atlanta, GA (Freedom Award)
2004: Hungarian Multi-Cultural Exhibition, Vizivaros Gallery, Budapest

Permanent collections:
Bibliotheque Nationale, France; Boston Museum of Fine Arts, MA; British Museum, London; Cranbrook Museum of Art, Bloomfield Hills, MI; Florean Museum, Carbunari, Romania; Frogg Museum, Cambridge, MA; Gilkey Center for Graphi Arts, Portland, OR (complete prints, over 600); Kyoto International Woodprint Association, Japan; Library of Congress, Washington, DC; Los Angeles County Art Institute, CA; Museo de Arte Contemporaneo, Panama City, Panama; Museum Emilio Bacardi, Santiago de Cuba; Museo Nacional de Costa Rica, San Jose, CR; Museo National de Cuba, La Habana, Cuba; Museum of the International Triennial of Graphic Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria; National Gallery, Prague, Czech Republic; National Museum of American History (over 100 works), Washington, DC; Seatlle Art Museum, WA; National Museum of Fine Arts, Cairo, Egypt; Museo Guayasamin, Quito, Ecuador.