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Julius Friedman found inspiration in unlikely objects, making memorable art

Julius Friedman (photo provided)

Julius Friedman, 74, died peacefully, surrounded by friends and family, Sunday, July 16, at Baptist Health Louisville following a battle with leukemia.

Friedman was a dedicated artist and prolific creator. He was a graphic designer, photographer, artist, furniture designer and videographer. The man and his work defy easy description.

Early in his career, Friedman created posters for non-profit organizations, many of which are so memorable that people today can instantly call them to mind at the mention of their titles.

“[He] was devoted to and proud of the Louisville Orchestra,” said longtime friend Gila Glattstein. “The extraordinary work he did for them is very well known and accepted by the community. Perhaps the most recognized piece in that series is French Horn Filled with Ice Cream.”

Last year, during a 50-year retrospective exhibit of his posters at the Frazier Museum, Friedman celebrated that poster “by getting area school children to re-enact the poster. It took them three minutes and 40 seconds to fill a real horn with ice cream,” Bruce Snyder wrote in an article for Community last August.

The exhibit included 320 of Friedman’s posters and several other installations, including a video. “I’ve never done a video before,” Friedman told Snyder. “I wanted this thing to showcase energy and rebirth. I also wanted people to walk through a fabric. I wanted more than photographs on a wall.”

So Friedman, who has always loved nature, chose water as the subject of a four-minute film he created. He also hung long pieces of fabric from the ceiling that people could walk through and touch while exploring his work.

Friedman’s early work also included the remarkable Toe On Egg for the Louisville Ballet and Fresh Paint, which shows stark, white eggs behind a row of red, yellow and blue yolks.

After his poster phase ended, he turned to photographic imagery of trees, water, flowers and a ballet dancer. These images were later printed on metal and fabric. His last work was a series of short videos that can be viewed on YouTube.

“I hope I touch a few people with my art,” Friedman told Snyder. “When people ask me what is my favorite poster, I always say the next one. Doing what I do, I hope I touch someone in a positive way, starting with a hug.”

Born and raised in Kentucky, Friedman graduated from the University of Louisville with a bachelor’s degree in graphic design. He went on to receive the Kentucky Governor’s Award in the Arts and his works are included in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the National Museum of Poster Art in Warsaw, Poland, the Dansk Plakamuseum in Aahous, Denmark, the Brown-Foreman Collection and the Marriot Hotel Corporation.

His work has been featured in many books, periodicals and shows including: Communication Art; Print Magazine; Art Direction; STA 100 Show; Graphis; Idea Magazine (Japan); Printers Industry of America; Photo Design; Kodak’s International Photography Magazine; Nikon World; Letterheads: A Collection from Around the World; American Photography; World Graphic Design; Now, The Language of Visual Art (Holt, Rinehart & Winston); Creative Typography (Phaidon Press); How Magazine; Typography: The Annual of the Type Directors Club; Great Ideas by Charles Helmken; Print’s Best Letterheads and Business Cards; Mead Top 60 Show; Simpson Printed Papers Awards; James Rivers the Best; and B&W Photo magazine.

Public Works, a book of posters by Friedman and Nathan Felde, was published in 1980 by Hawley Cooke and Orr. Images and Ideas: Julius Friedman, a 256-page book, was published in 2008 by Butler Books. The Book was published by Old Stone Press in 2016.

The family thanks the doctors and nurses at Baptist Health for providing such wonderful care.

Friedman is survived by his sister, Carol Seifer (Sanford Abrams); his nieces, Caryn Steinert (Eric) and Melissa Cohen (Matthew); and his daughter, Kimberly Karp.

Funeral services will be Wednesday, July 19, at 11:30 a.m. at Herman Meyer & Son, Inc., 1338 Ellison Ave., with burial to follow in Adath Jeshurun Cemetery.  Visitation will begin after 10 a.m.

Expressions of sympathy may be made to The Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

Information for this story came from his official obituary and the biographic information published on his web site, imagesol.com.

(Shiela Wallace, editor emeritus, compiled and contributed to this story.)

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