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Posted 24 Feb 2001   For week ended October 27, 2000
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Sent on Mormon-News: 24Oct00

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 calendar company.

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 Commandments."

"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


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