PEDRO FRIEDEBERG (b. 1937): Hands, c.1970. Three wood with gold paint, two signed ‘Pedro Freideberg’ on the bottom, one signed with initials ‘PF’ on a label on the bottom. Moon 8 1/2 x 2 x 1 in., Middle Finger 7 1/2 x 2 1/2 x 2 in. and 5 1/2 x 2 x 1 in. Provenance: Earl and Camilla McGrath.
Friedeberg was born in Florence, Italy, on January 11, 1936, the son of German-Jewish parents, Friedeberg arrived in Mexico at the age of three. Having shown an early inclination for drawing and reading, he studied architecture at the Universidad Iberoamericana, where he was profoundly influenced by the teaching of Mathias Goeritz, a German-Mexican artist. Under Goeritz influence he created architectural models that fused diverse elements into single structures and were often designed to be non-fictional. His educational background ranged from medieval to Art Nouveau and his work anticipated postmodernism. In 1960, Friedeberg was invited to join a group based on Dadaist principles: the creation of anti-art for art’s sake. Los Hartos (The Fed Up) was a rejection of political painting and provided an alternative to the social painting of the time. This organization led Friedeberg to part in another direction that would define his work – he believed in the autonomy of aestheticism. Apart from Friedeberg’s non-fictional architectural fantasies, he began producing furniture that rejected the predominantly international style of architecture and design that was being taught in Mexico. After designing his first chair, Friedeberg went on to design tables, couches, and love seats. This body of work, along with Friedeberg’s obsessively crowded and meticulously detailed canvases, often included references to Tantric scriptures, Aztec codices, Catholicism, Hinduism, and symbols of the occult. The former apprentice of Friedeberg, American artist and spiritist Zachary Selig, also uses references to Mesoamerican culture and Chakra symbolism in his works of art. In 1970, Friedeberg introduced his friend Selig to the surrealist painter Bridget Bate Tichenor in Mexico City, and she spiritually adopted Selig, becoming his mentor until her death in 1990. Although Friedeberg’s paintings, filled to overflowing with surprise, were sometimes described as examples of Surrealism or fantastic realism, they are not easily definable in terms of conventional categories. He used architectural drawing as the medium through which he created unusual compositions and also designed furniture and useless objects, admitting that his artistic activity was rooted in boredom. This sense of irony and surfeit imparted to his pictures, through the hallucinatory repetition of elements, an asphyxiating formal disorder. Friedeberg’s work is a product of highly conscious, if not self-conscious, thought. Pedro invented the hand chair in the 1960s, and continues to create them to this day along with assorted chairs ranging from butterfly chairs to small stools and upholstered couches. His paintings range from small and relatively simple to tremendously large complicated ones. His art is periodically auctioned at auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s among others. ————–