By Utah National Parks Council
Dec 27, 2013

Arnold Friberg 100 Years in the Making

Arnold Friberg turned 100 on December 21st and in celebration 300 of his pieces are on display at an exhibit at the Gateway. This exhibit is the only time the entire collection will be displayed. Typically, because of cost, the exhibit is distributed in sections to different locations.

Cost to tour the exhibit is $16 but you can purchase an entrance ticket at KFC for $10.

The exhibit consists of 12 Galleries, and plan on spending at least an hour at the exhibit which is well worth the cost of the ticket.

Gallery 1      

Arnold Friberg 001The Early Years: Arnold Friberg’s sister, Gertrude, remembers that whenever her mother wanted to keep the 3-year-old quiet, she would give him a pencil and a piece of paper. When he was four, his mother encouraged him to take the local newspaper and copy the lettering. Although he had no concept of the written word, he saw the endless letters as an art form and copied letters for hours.

Arnold Friberg 002

Friberg’s early fascination for copying letters blossomed into an interest in cartooning and soon created his own cartoon, which he title, “Such Is Life,” and sought a fresh idea every day.

Gallery 2                  

The Illustration Years: After high school, Arnold received a $500 loan from Mrs. Dwight B. Heard, the widow of the late publisher of the Arizona Republican, to attend the Chicago Academy of Arts, where Walt Disney had studied years before, in order to gain practical skills of letterpress, fashion design, graphic design, layout and cartooning. 

Gallery 3      

Arnold Friberg 012

Drawing of Boy Scouts standing at attention while flag is raised. Friberg 1927

The Military Years: Arnold Friberg never wanted to go to war. Yet when the draft came, he felt he had a duty to serve. He entered the 86th Infantry Division at Camp Howze in Northern Texas and was assigned to G-2 Division Headquarters. This was an intelligence section usually associated with spy missions and high adventure. Friberg was assigned to scouting and patrolling, map-making, and producing raining aids whenever he was not on the battlefield.

Gallery 4    

Arnold Friberg 018The Utah Years: By 1950 Arnold and his wife had moved to Utah, and Arnold started teaching commercial art at the University of Utah.

Gallery 5

The Hollywood Years: Friberg began the sketches for Moses almost a year before the filming on “The Ten Commandments” started. Friberg was the chief artist and designer for Demille and spent over three years bringing to life a variety of scenes and human characters for the motion picture, including designing the costumes for the principal stars, for which he received the Motion Picture “Academy Award” nomination.

Arnold Friberg 038Gallery 6

The Bible in Art: In addition to his paintings of the Book of Mormon and for “The Ten Commandments,” Arnold Friberg also produces other religious works, including scenes from the Old and New Testament.

Gallery 7

Royal Canadian Mounted Police: Over a period of 38 years Arnold Friberg painted over 200 pictures of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Gallery 8

The Royal Portraits: Thanks to his remarkable work in painting the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Friberg was invited to witness the historic act of the queen of England being presented with a new horse by the R.C.M.P. He would also be introduced to Her Majesty and to Prince Philip, who was also the active president of the Royal Society of Arts, one of the most prestigious organizations in the world.

The presentation of the horse was made during the Mounties’ 100th year, hence the horse was named “Centennial.” In 1978, Friberg was commissioned to do an almost life-size portrait of Prince Charles with this great horse at a studio in Buckingham Palace.

Later in 1990, Friberg and his wife were invited back to spend another six weeks to painting an equestrian portrait of Queen Elizabeth II and the same horse.

Arnold Friberg 035Gallery 9

The Master of the American West: For several years, Friberg’s western pictures were painted for use on calendars. He never gave much consideration to the original paintings and considered them just “leftovers” from the printed reproductions. He never thought of showing them in art exhibitions, and they accumulated around his home and studio. Gradually he began receiving requests from buyers of art.

Arnold Friberg 030Gallery 10

Patriotic Works: There are several sketches and paintings that have rarely been viewed, including an oil portrait of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, as well as sketches of Uncle Sam. Friberg also delighted in painting swords and eagles, symbols of justice, strength and American liberty.

Arnold Friberg 040Gallery 11  

The Prayer at Valley Forge: In February 1974, after having just returned from Valley Forge, I was in an art supply and bookstore in Tempe. It was a time of rebellious cynicism. Some students were loudly deriding the upcoming birthday of George Washing. They were laughing at him. You now the type of thing, “George Washington, father of his country!” In exaggerated mockery they’d laugh and laugh. They had no appreciation for what he’d done. They had no sense of the greatness of the man; the tremendous burden that he carried. He had borne what DeMille called the lonely burden of leadership, but these young people had no understanding of that. The almost humorous irony of the situation put steel into my determination to complete a large painting, loaded with the pictorial clout to counteract their disrespect, and perhaps to help rekindle a reverence for the deep spiritual roots of our country. 

Gallery 12

The Inspired Brush: The artwork found in this final section includes the types of projects that helped Friberg develop his talent over the course of his career. They don’t really fit in any of the other categories, thus forming their own unique place. These works include self-portraits, family portraits, and Friberg’s favorite time of the year, Christmas.

You can take pictures of all of the paintings as long as you do not use a flash.

Do you know the difference between an artist and an illustrator?  An illustrator is someone who is paid to portray a client’s message. [1]

Arnold Friberg 043Often when you look at Friberg’s most famous painting, “The Prayer at Valley Forge,” you picture him sitting down with a large canvas and going to work. One of the things the exhibit highlighted was the multiple sketches that were completed before the final piece began.

There is a lesson here for all about the pre-work that must be done before we step out refined and finished from the refiner’s fire. A lot of mistakes are made along the way but should not discourage us from achieving the end. Just brush it off and keep moving forward.

Arnold Friberg 047

The exhibit closes January 1, 2014.

Author: Heidi Sanders | Marketing & PR Director, Utah National Parks Council



See Keith Bond, Fine Artist vs. Illustrator.

Gallery 1-12 highlights taken from exhibit guide.

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