Born Pietro Enrico Hoffman Landesman in Florence, Italy to German-Jewish parents, Pedro Friedeberg fled the war with his family to Mexico at the age of three. He describes his childhood as an unhappy one, and recalls being forced to learn the violin and several foreign languages. Artistic from a young age, Friedeberg was enthralled with the Gothic architecture of Florence and later, by the Aztec ruins in his adopted home-town of Mexico City. In 1957, he enrolled in the Universidad Iberoamericana to study architecture, however his studies were short lived. He found traditionalist Modernist designs boring and was more interested in creating fantastical structures than functional buildings. Encouraged by his friend and sculptor Mathias Goertiz, Friedeberg left university to pursue a career as an artist full time. He had his first solo exhibition at the age of twenty-two at Galería Diana in 1960 and began associating with other Surrealists and Neo-Dadaists, including Leonora Carrington and Alice Rahon, who also called Mexico City home. Together, they formed the group Los Hartos (The Fed-Up Ones) which was steeped in absurdist Dadaist traditions and focused singularly on making art for art’s sake. His most famous work, the Hand Chair came about almost as a joke after he was asked to give some work to Goertiz’s woodcarver in his absence. The resulting form has sold more than 5,000 copies since its inception. Aside from furniture design, Friedeberg is also an accomplished painter, his two dimensional works meld Op Art with Surrealism to create an aesthetic all his own. Known as one of the last great eccentrics, Friedeberg has exhibited widely in his time and his works reside in many public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Museo de Arte Moderno, Mexico City, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Smithsonian Institute in Washington D.C.
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