Maurice Freed, a native of Pottsville, Pa. and a graduate of the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art(now the University of the Arts), lived and painted in Philadelphia during most of his life. At the age of 19, he won a scholarship to the Cape School of Art in Provincetown where he studied with Henry Hensche, Morris Davidson, and Albert Alcalay. In 1934, at the age of 23, his talents were recognized when he was invited to Chicago to become Co-Art Director of Esquire magazine.
As an illustrator, Maurice Freed’s work was published in Esquire, The New Yorker, Holiday Magazine, as well as a cover for Fortune Magazine. He also did commercial illustrations for companies from TastyKake to Penn Wax Works, designed covers for a variety of published books, brochures for music programs in Philadelphia including the Settlement Music School, as well as for Art Festivals in Philadelphia.
Following his early professional success at Esquire and as a regular contributor to the New Yorker and other magazines, and after 14 years of operating a prosperous advertising art service, Freed turned his attention from illustration and commercial art to painting and the fine arts. From 1960 until his death in 1981, he devoted himself to painting and to the art world around him. In addition to the time spent working in his studio and exhibiting, he taught drawing and painting, served as president of the Philadelphia Chapter of Artists Equity Association, and from 1979‑1981 attended seminars at the Barnes Art Foundation.
Freed gained international recognition from his year‑long sojourn in France in 1960, being featured in a lead article in Information Artistique (Paris, 1961) and upon his return, in The American Artist (New York, 1962). In fact, extensive travel throughout his life brought to Freed's work an extraordinary diversity of subject matter and mood. In the 1930's, he traveled and sketched in Mexico, and later in Haiti. He journeyed and painted throughout Europe, spending considerable periods of time in France, Portugal, Spain, Israel and in England. Freed worked most exuberantly in the out of doors where the richness of changing landscapes and the customs and century‑old buildings of his surroundings could find their way onto his canvases. The European influence of the Old Masters, of the French Impressionists and the early Cubists clearly shows itself in his work.
Maurice Freed’s paintings are represented in private collections both in the United States and throughout Europe. He exhibited widely in one‑man and group shows at such places as La Boutique d'Art in Nice, the Newman Contemporary Art Gallery, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, the Woodmere Art Museum, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, the Chicago Art Institute and Butler Institute. He was the recipient of many awards and prizes, the last of which was presented in April 1981, from the Woodmere Art Museum just four months before his death.
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