Robinson Fredenthal

Robinson FredenthalRobinson Fredenthal created an extraordinary body of art. Major public sculptures of his in Philadelphia include the landmark “Black Forest” on Penn’s campus at 34th and Walnut Streets, “Double Agent” at One Franklin Plaza, “White Water”, PNC Bank at 5th and Market, the huge “Fire” “Water” “Ice” at 1234 Market Street, “Blockhead” at 8th and Spring Garden Streets, and “The Red Queen” at the Mantua Community Center and Branch Library. Fredenthal was also commissioned to design large public sculptures for other sites across America including the recent “Brilliant Corners” at the Reflexite Corporation’s headquarters in Avon, CT. Upon graduation from the Darrow School in New Lebanon, NY. Fredenthal came to Philadelphia to attend the University of Pennsylvania and later entered the Graduate School of Fine Arts in Architecture. However, his architectural studies were interrupted in 1964 by the onset of what was later diagnosed as Parkinson’s Disease which made it increasingly difficult for him to draw or fabricate large constructions.
He turned from the pursuit of an architectural career to the sculptural exploration of geometry and began to make small models of variations on simple forms like the cubeRobinson Fredenthal and tetrahedron. At this time, the School of Architecture was under the visionary thinking of Louis Kahn and Robert Le Ricolais with whom Fredenthal had contact. He also had close association, both as a student and later professionally, with Romaldo Giurgola, Robert Engman, Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Anne Tyng. By 1967, excited by the limitless possibilities in the combination of geometric shapes and volumes, Fredenthal had developed a satisfactory working method of producing precise cardboard models of his conceptions with the aid of assistants. A Tony Smith sculpture exhibition at the ICA in 1966-67, stimulated him to introduce sculpturally complex forms and combinations into his work. Fredenthal was awarded his “Masters” of Architecture from Penn in 1967 for his stunning and original work and influence upon his peers.
While over the years his disease progressively weakened him physically, Fredenthal’s brilliant intellect and vision remained strong. He continued his in-depth exploration of form, producing thousands of models (most of which are now part of the Architectural Robinson FredenthalArchives at Penn.) and worked at different scales and in different materials. Born in Claremont, New Hampshire, Fredenthal’s father was the acclaimed watercolor painter, David Fredenthal, and his mother, Miriam is a respected weaver and fabric designer. His sister, Ruth Ann, is an internationally known painter living in New York. He had been the recipient of a Pollack-Krasner Foundation Award and the National Endowment for the Arts. Acquired by private collectors, his work has been widely exhibited. Though totally disabled and dependent on others for the last sixteen years of his life, he continued his work until two weeks before his death in Philadelphia on August 31, 2009″

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