Robert Fried Biography

Robert Fried




Robert "Bob" Samuel Fried was born April 7th, 1937 in Flatbush, Brooklyn, NY. Fried's father, Henry, was a clock maker and a horologist with an interest in ancient timepieces, and he began training Fried in drawing diagrams of clock and gyroscope construction when Fried was a child. Fried's interest and talent in highly detailed mechanical art gained him entry into weekend arts courses at the Pratt Institute while he was in high school.

A diligent student, Friend was soon sent to New York City College to pursue commercial art and graphics. Fried received his Associate of Arts degree there in the late 1950s. He worked for some time with local agencies and was eventually awarded a scholarship to Cooper Union, where he studied under painter Nicholas Carone. He soon began to delve into large-scale Abstract oil painting, a departure from the minute mechanical art in which he was trained. During his time at Cooper Union he was granted another scholarship to the Pratt Institute, this time to pursue lithography. He studied at both institutions simultaneously and graduated from Cooper Union in ‘62.

Fried received a Fulbright scholarship to study in Spain that same year; however, he did not leave the states right away. He taught at the Provincetown Workshop with Victor Candell, and worked as an assistant to artist Robert Motherwell.

In 1963 Fried married Penelope, a British painter from Southampton, England, who he'd met at an exhibition in Brooklyn two years earlier. In March of that year they traveled to Spain, Fried using his Fulbright to study the artist Francisco de Zurbaran. They lived and studied in Madrid from 1963 to ‘65. It was while in Spain that Fried was introduced to Timothy Leary, a leader of the psychedelic drug movement. At the time, Sandos pharmacy LSD, manufactured in Switzerland, was a legal, over-the-counter headache relief medication in Spain and much of Europe. The drug would eventually become an influence on Fried's most well-recognized work, psychedelic-effect rock poster art.

The Fried’s returned to New York in 1965 and Fried began applying to West Coast graduate programs. In 1966 he was accepted to the San Francisco Art Institute. They arrived in San Francisco later that year and in 1968 he earned his M.F.A. While earning his degree he worked as a freelance graphic artist and poster designer, becoming involved with the Bay Area's now-famous rock poster art scene. When the rock scene began to slow down, Fried turned his attention once more to fine art with a focus on lithography and other forms of printmaking. Among his works were the delicately designed and executed stamp sheets, which he printed and perforated by hand, and is rumored to have used as stamps to send postcards through the U.S. mail.

He exhibited on occasion in both solo and group shows throughout the U.S., and a faculty show at the San Francisco Art Institute where he was then teaching. Fried was preparing for a solo show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art on January 9, 1975; he died of a stroke on opening day.