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Johnny Friedlaender

Pless 1912 - Paris 1992


'I eschew coincidence in my work; it is not my master. I have made stringency my rule. I jot down my fleeting ideas in the form of numerous sketches and, as if for a musical score, they continue to be worked out.' (Quoted from: Friedlaender, Werkverzeichnis der Radierungen, Verlag Galerie Peerlings) Gotthard Johnny Friedlaender was born in Pless, Upper Silesia, on 21 June 1912, the son of an apothecary. After refugeeing from Pless to Breslau in 1921, Friedlaender attended higher secondary school leading to university-entrance qualification from 1922. Friedlaender enrolled at the Breslau Art Academy in 1928, where he attended the master classes taught by Otto Mueller, a member of 'Die Brücke'. Another teacher was Carlo Mense. Even during his academy years Johnny Friedlaender worked in lithography and etching. In 1930 Friedlaender moved to Dresden, where his work was exhibited in group shows at Galerie J.Sandel. After the war years and moving from place to place, Friedlaender and his wife settled in Paris as political refugees in 1937, where Friedlaender showed his etchings at 'L'Équipe' and 'Matières et Formes', groups headed by Gaston Diehl. In 1938 and 1939 Friedlaender worked at the literary weekly magazine 'Marianne' on Paul Chadourne's recommendation. The war made Friedlaender leave Paris but he returned in 1945. He worked for various journals and concentrated on etching as his main medium of expression but continued to do some watercolours. In 1948 Friedlaender went to Denmark, where he had exhibitions, including one at the Birch Gallery in Copenhagen, which was followed by others. Friedlaender was one of the great inventors in coloured printmaking. A school formed in Paris round his work as a painter and printmaker and his coloured etchings were internationally aclaimed. In 1987 the Kunsthalle Bremen mounted a retrospective of Friedlaender's work on the occasion of his seventy-fifth birthday. In 1992 Johnny Friedlaender died in Paris, where he had spent most of his adult life.


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