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Julius Friedman: Picture This

Episode #404 | First Aired: November 21, 2011

[EDITOR’S NOTE: Julius Friedman died July 16, 2017, at the age of 74. KET produced the documentary “Julius Friedman: Picture This” in 2011 as part of the Kentucky Muse series. The following article was written to accompany the video. A gallery of his work is included below.]

Louisville graphic designer and photographer Julius Friedman claims he has often wondered if he was adopted or left on the doorstep by a mysterious stranger. Friedman’s father was a druggist by trade, and young Julius was not exposed to the arts at home. Yet, he ended up an internationally renowned artist, producing a massive body of work that ranges from innovative corporate designs to stunningly beautiful fine art pieces, sometimes blurring the line between the two.

His iconic posters have gained worldwide recognition and travelled to galleries in Tokyo, Paris, Poland, and Denmark, not to mention New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. His famous Louisville Ballet poster of a dancer’s shoe balanced on an egg and his “Fresh Paint” poster, featuring three egg yolks in the primary colors, are instantly recognizable in the national art landscape. (The egg connection here is a coincidence, not necessarily a theme. However, because these are two of his most recognizable images, Friedman once referred to himself as “the eggman” in a local article.)

While his work travels far and wide, Friedman keeps his roots in Louisville. He describes the River City as “a great place to live,” though it is sometimes a “hard place to make a living as an artist.” He had one “straight job” at an ad agency, a position he was so disinterested in that he left after only six weeks, going out for lunch one day never to return again.

A great supporter and enthusiast for the local performing arts and fine artists, Friedman co-owns Chapman Friedman Gallery, which represents contemporary regional, national, and international artists. He also continues to create art and exhibit his work locally. His 2010-2011 exhibit at the 21c hotel in downtown Louisville featured traditional nude photographs printed with a modern and innovative technique. The images, sometimes double exposures, are printed on raw aluminum, giving them a transcendent and surreal quality.

Friedman’s most recent photo shoots capture everything from the serenity of his 200-acre country estate to the passion and intensity of ballet dancer Erica De La O at work. Today, he continues to be one of Kentucky’s most influential artists and an invaluable part of the Louisville arts community.

Gallery of Artwork

“Best known for his photography, Julius is rarely without camera either in hand or at least within easy reach. Regular walks at his Oldham County farm as well as daily strolls along the urban streets around his downtown design studio have yielded a vast collection of images of environs with both breadth of range and depth of discovery. A Friedman photograph of dew on a blade of grass or a staple—and refuse–covered utility pole allows the viewer to see once “invisible” objects with new wonder.”

Artist Cheryl Chapman, Images & Ideas Julius Friedman

“One gets the sense from talking with Friedman and looking at his posters that he doesn’t agonize over the concept. Ideas seem to spring quickly from conversations with a new client or from his mental warehouse of collected images and information. Once he has an idea in mind, he goes about creating the image – no laborious layout and sketches, but a previsualized image to be realized. Although the idea may seem to come effortlessly to Friedman, the creation of the photographic image is a labor of love.”

University of Louisville Power Creative Designer-in-Residence Leslie Friesen, Images & Ideas Julius Friedman