Working in their unique Modernist 20th Century figural styles.

Santos Zingale and Joseph Friebert: Explored and Honored by Exhibits at the Museum of Wisconsin Art

by Gary John Gresl

Tavern Front, Oil by James Friebert
Because of deadlines, available space and dearth of reporters, Art in Wisconsin must necessarily miss commenting on many exhibits of art in our state. Two such shows that AIW missed acknowledging until now held at the Museum of Wisconsin Art were important exhibits of work by Santos Zingale and Joseph Friebert. Even though these exhibits are by now largely in the past, it is worthwhile for us to recognize that both of these shows were significant, and that both of these artist must be remembered as important figures in the history of 20th Century art in our state.

Zingale and Friebert were both born in 1908 and died three years apart, Santos in 1999 and Joseph in 2002. Both were part of a group of artists who remained largely unaffected by the influence of once dominant German academies, working instead in their unique Modernist 20th Century figural styles. These two longtime college teachers had some other parallels in their lives.

Besides being life long artists broadly exhibited in their lifetimes, both gentlemen also served as professors and thereby influenced generations of younger artists. Both also had a reputation for their strong and idiosyncratic personalities. They began their careers during a time of social consciousness, when the plights of the poor, refugees and the war torn were obvious and in need of recognition. Both men used their abilities to voice their concerns for the ravaged and socially malaffected.

Their figural styles were distinctly different. Zingale’s work grew in a richly colorful manner with subjects having fairly sharp and defined outlines, while Friebert’s expression was largely to work in diffuse amber, dark and moody tones with deliberately blurred edges. Both men often drew upon subjects directly from their local experience and the environment in Wisconsin, though both absorbed conditions of humankind from the broader terrain of the world.

For interested viewers one can still catch the Friebert showing at the Museum of Wisconsin Art thru July 27th in the exhibit titled “Milwaukee’s Old Master: Joseph Friebert”. The museum will also have some documentation of the Zingale show that was held earlier this year.

The Museum of Wisconsin Art is located at 300 North Sixth Avenue, West Bend, WI, with hours of Wed. thru Sat, 10:00 AM to 4:30 PM and Sunday, 1- 4:30 PM. Phone 262-334-0638 for more information.

Tavern Front, Oil by James Friebert The Negro District, Watercolor, by Santos Zingale
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