Ernest Bradfield Freed Biography

Ernest Bradfield Freed




Ernest Bradfield Freed, painter, muralist, printmaker, administrator, and teacher, was born on a farm near Rockville, Indiana on July 20, 1908. He showed an early propensity toward art but received no formal training until he enrolled at Indiana State Teachers College in 1926. The following year, Freed transferred to the University of Illinois where he earned his B.S. in Education in 1931 and a B.F.A. in Art in 1933. He was awarded a scholarship in 1933 to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where he studied until 1934. Between 1935 and 1937, he pursued further studies at the University of Iowa and received his M.A. in fresco painting. The year 1936 was a transformative for Freed as he won a Tiffany Foundation Fellowship and had his first solo exhibition at the Ferargils Gallery in New York, which included work created during his fellowship.

Freed’s early career in education included positions at the University of Iowa and Bradley University. He was Director of Art Education at Iowa where he met and studied printmaking with Mauricio Lasansky. At Bradley, as head of the School of Art, he revamped the curriculum to include printmaking and established the Bradley National Print Exhibition. In 1954, he began a twenty-year career as Professor of Art at Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles where he developed a studio for oversize color intaglios. As Head of Printmaking, he established another legacy, the National Print Invitational.

Freed was a member of and exhibited with the Iowa Print Group, the Society of American Graphic Artists, the American Color Print Society, and the Los Angeles Printmaking Society. His work was included in numerous group exhibitions and solo exhibitions of Freed’s work were mounted at the Cranbrook Museum in 1949; the Dallas Museum of Art in 1952; the Occidental College Gallery in 1957; and the Norton Simon Museum in 1959.

His intaglio Battle of the Sexes was selected for the 1947 First National Print Annual Exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum where it received a purchase prize. It was then included in the exhibition American Printmaking: 1913-1947 at the Brooklyn Museum which was sponsored by the American Institute of Graphic Arts. In 1949, Freed selected the Battle of the Sexes for inclusion in the exhibition A New Direction in Intaglio at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. His work was selected for the National Exhibition of Prints Made During the Current Year at the Library of Congress in 1946, 1952, 1954, 1956, 1959, and 1960.

The work of Ernest Bradfield Freed is represented in the collections of the Baltimore Museum; the Brooklyn Museum; the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois, Champaign; the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; the Hammer Museum, University of California, Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum, New York; the Bibliothèque nationale, Paris; the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco; and the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.

Ernest Freed died in Northridge, California in June of 1974.