Who was this artist named FREIDMAN? For years I have been in search of the answer. Have I finally solved the mystery!
Detailed views of Friedman painting. San Francisco skyline, pre Transamerica Building. Coit Tower and the Ferry Building are recognizable landmarks.
Years ago, on a now defunct blog, I posted about an artist named FRIEDMAN. I was searching for more information about the artist who painted a painting that now hangs in our dining room. For years it hung in my Grandparents home. Grandpa said he bought it at a gallery in San Francisco back in the 60’s. It’s not a small painting, it is a 20” x 60” landscape of the San Francisco skyline.
I set out to try to find who the artist was. The painting is signed FREIDMAN. But who was this mystery artist. I found some similar art for sale online. First, I found a painting at a gallery in in San Diego. No clues to help me find answers. Actually, their info added to my confusion. They said:
Signed by the artist “Friedman”, this is a classic example of vintage School of Paris imagery. This painting was purchased in Paris during the heyday of the School of Paris popularity.
The painting is non-descript, but has all the characteristics of other FREIDMAN painting that are usually of San Francisco. I found another painting on flickr.
Comment on flickr gave some insight about the painter. A person named Victoria said:
My painting by Friedman was purchased between 1963-68. It is a French Street scene. At the time I lived south of San Francisco in Millbrae. I think that “starving artist” is an apt description of the artist as I remember him telling me that was exactly what he was and asked if he could spread his paintings out on my front lawn for myself to see along with any of my neighbors that might be interested in purchasing one. I still have my painting.
I was contacted by another FRIEDMAN owner, Mike, who had a painting very similar to mine. He added to the “starving artist” story. He told me that his parents purchased it from an artist who was going door to door, working out of his car. His Mother liked the painting, but wished it had a more orange hue. The artist went to his car and added the desired color. The painting was sold, and part of his family for years. Below is Mikes painting and mine:
Aside from the paintings, there are many small sketches/prints of San Francisco. They are very prolific on ebay. As part of my research I could not resist purchasing a few prints. Most appear to be signed and numbered – FREIDMAN “1/64”.
Some sellers think these are individually signed and numbered in series. A closer look, under magnification, the signature looks like it has halftone print dots. That means these are prints. It is easy to mistake these as original art, especially when some have been hand painted over the print.
Notice the dots in the Signature. Definitive proof that these are printed copies, not individually signed etchings.
I theorized that the artist sold these print on the street as souvenirs. He was very entrepreneurial. And very much part of the scene that was San Francisco leading up to the Summer of Love.
So, do I really know anything more definitive about the artist named FREIDMAN. Not really. I can only assume this was an aspiring street artist in San Francisco, trying to make a buck.
I didn’t know if I would ever be closer to knowing who the artist was. He may forever known only as FREIDMAN.
One day I came across information about an artist named PARTEE. It seems that PARTEE was from New York and was born, John Irwin Freidman in 1934. PARTEE passed away in 2008, he had been living near San Francisco in Sonoma County. Looking at his work I could not say I had found my man. There were etchings of San Francisco, but nothing that had the same style. Nevertheless, PARTEE was an interesting character. I would eventually revisit the possibilities of a connection.
Seems that PARTEE had an association with the infamous Charles Manson in San Francisco during the Summer of Love. Several of his drawing from that era even include images of Manson. All makes for interesting backstory, but it didn’t connect any dots.
I was reviewing some of the San Francisco prints I had purchased. There was one that had been sent to me by mistake by the ebay seller. It was a typical FREIDMAN, but it wasn’t of San Francisco. The print was of the 1964 New York Worlds Fair. Signed FREIDMAN 64.
I had never really noticed, it also said “for Inga”. Could this be the clue I needed. John Irwin Freidman aka PARTEE was from New York. This was not enough to make the connection. Who was Inga? Well, on a blog devoted to researching the Tate-LaBianca Homicide there is a page about John Irwin Fredman. On that page it mentions:
He (Freidman) married in the early 1960’s to a lady by the name of Inga, had 3 children with her but she was killed in a traffic accident in San Francisco in the mid 60’s. Soon after, he met and married a lady named Holly. It was about this time that he changed his name to “Partee”.
Wow, is this the evidence I was looking for? Pretty sure this is the artist named FREIDMAN I have been looking for.