conducted groundbreaking research on American carousels, the wood-carvers of carousel animals, cigar store figures, amusement parks (especially Coney Island),arcadia ephemera (canvas and wooden advertising signs, photographs, games, and ornamentation), and tattoos. He also discovered the work of the importantAmerican folk painter, Ralph Fasanella, in 1972. He was a consultant to the Shelburne Museum, the South Street Seaport Museum, and the American Folk ArtMuseum, as well as a frequent writer and lecturer. Besides books on carousel art, shop figures, circus art, and American folk art in general, he also wrote
New York Civic Sculpture: A Pictorial Guide
(1976), with photographs by Edmund V. Gillon Jr., and
Built to Amuse: Views from America’s Past (Postage Postcard Series)
(1990). Frederick Fried also served as the historian for the Musical Box Society International, and was a founder of the National Carousel Association.Fried was a native of Brooklyn, but as an adult lived in Manhattan and summered in Lincoln, Vermont, where in 1993 an arsonist set fire to his barn; a portion of Fried’s folk art collection was destroyed. Fried obtained a college education in fine arts in the 1930s, served in the United States military in World War II, and enjoyeda career as an art director at several fashion agencies. By 1961 he devoted all his time to collecting, research, and consulting. He and his wife Mary (1913–) wereactive in landmark conservation. They donated their folk art archives to the Smithsonian Institution. The files are summarized as “subject files [that] relate to carouselsand carousel animals, but there are also voluminous files on other folk art topics, including show figures, architectural ornamentation, signs, weathervanes, ship carvings,circus art, coin-operated machines.”Fried is known for his primary research on New York City shop figure carver Samuel Anderson Robb (1851–1928), resulting from his discussions with the carver’sdaughter, Elizabeth, before her death in 1967. Fried also interviewed Thomas H.McKay, son of successful clipper shipbuilder Donald McKay (dates unknown), andlearned of the young McKay’s interview with shop figure carver Thomas V.Brooks (1828–1895), who maintained shops first in New York City and later in Chicagoand under whom Robb had apprenticed. His primary research and interviews lead to the publication of
Artists in Wood,
Fried’s greatest contribution to folk artscholarship.
American Folk Art Museum; Thomas V.Brooks; Carousel Art; Circus Art; Ralph Fasanella; Maritime Folk Art; Samuel Anderson Robb;Shelburne Museum; Ship Figureheads;
Shop Figures; Tattoo; Toys, Folk; Weathervanes
A Pictorial History of the Carousel.
New York, 1964. ——.
Artists in Wood: American Carvers of Cigar-Store Indians, Show Figures, and Circus Wagons.
New York, 1970. ——.
America’s Forgotten Folk Arts.
New York, 1978