Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
First Friberg Exhibit in 10 Years Opens Examination of His Work
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH -- Utah's most famous living artist, Arnold
Friberg, will be honored at a reception Thursday at Williams Fine Art
in downtown Salt Lake City, marking the first public exhibit of
Friberg's work in the last 10 years. The 86-year-old grand master, of
a realist style that lends itself to royal British portraits or
sweeping depictions of the American West, will display twenty-four of
his original oils, including a Nativity scene that will be on display
at the gallery through Saturday.
"He wants people to have a chance to see what his life's work has
been," said Clayton R. Williams, gallery owner. "He's an
international figure, but we don't think his work's had the attention
it's deserved. It's time he be appreciated here in his hometown."
Utah has been Friberg's home for 50 years. He grew up in Arizona and
took his first serious art classes in New York where Norman Rockwell
was his classmate. Friberg's fascination with the American West began
in 1948 when he was hired to paint a series of Western scenes for a
In the early 1950's he was commissioned by The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints to paint 12 illustrations of the Book of Mormon.
This work led him to Cecil B. DeMille where he worked as his chief
artist for more than three years. Friberg made hundreds of sketches
and paintings that inspired many scenes in the epic "Ten
"The paintings were not made from the motion picture. The motion
picture was made from the paintings," Friberg said calling DeMille,
"the greatest man I've ever known." His work also inspired costumes
that earned Friberg a 1956 Academy Award nomination.
In 1968 Friberg was hired by Chevrolet to do a series of paintings
commemorating the most celebrated games in football history. In 1977
he did a series of work on Old West saloons. He has painted wagon
trains, mountain men, and a famous series of over 300 depictions of
the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
His most famous, and perhaps most expensive work, is that of George
Washington kneeling in prayer beside his horse at Valley Forge. The
painting completed in 1975, was recently appraised for $12 million.
"I did that to pay tribute to Washington, to portray the burden that
fell upon one lonely man," Friberg said. "I'm a hero worshiper. I
have to respect, almost idolize whatever I paint."
Friberg dismisses any criticism of his sentimental subject matter.
"The art experts say, 'You've sold out to be popular.' No. I've never
done anything contrary to my instincts," he said. "I don't belong in
the art world at all. I'm a storyteller."
Six Decades of Friberg Leave an Impressive Collection
Salt Lake Tribune 22Oct00 A2
By Brandon Griggs: Salt Lake Tribune