Bernard Harper Friedman (July 27, 1926 – January 4, 2011), better known by his initials, "B. H.," was an American author and art critic who wrote biographies of Jackson Pollock and Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, a number of novels that combined his experiences in the worlds of art and business, and an autobiographical account of his use of psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary.
Friedman was born on July 27, 1926, in Manhattan, New York City, the son of Leonard and Madeline Copland (Uris) Friedman. He enrolled at Cornell University before enlisting in the United States Navy during World War II, serving from 1944 to 1946. He returned to Cornell after completing his military service and earned his undergraduate degree in literature in 1948. He married his second cousin, Abby Noselson, in 1948, while they were in college. Friedman went into the real estate business owned by his uncles Percy Uris and Harold Uris, working his way up to become a director of the Uris Buildings Corporation.
After publishing his first novel — Circles (1962), a story based on life in the art world in New York City and The Hamptons — he left the real estate business to focus on his writing. Jackson Pollock: Energy Made Visible (1972) is considered to be the first biography of the artist; reviewing it for The New York Times, Hilton Kramer called it "a book that everyone interested in the social history of modern art will want to read." Frustrated by perceived snubs from the major book-publishing firms, Friedman joined other authors, such as Mark Jay Mirsky and Ronald Sukenick, to form the Fiction Collective in 1974, a not-for-profit publishing group whose goals were to "make serious novels and story collections available in simultaneous hard and quality paper editions" and to "keep them in print permanently." His 1978 book, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney: A Biography, provided an account of the life of the artist, art collector and patron of the arts. His autobiographical account, Tripping (2006), recounts his experiences using psychedelic drugs with Timothy Leary.
Friedman died in Manhattan at the age of 84, on January 4, 2011, of pneumonia. He was survived by a daughter, a son and two grandchildren. His wife died in 2003. His younger brother, novelist Sanford Friedman, was born in 1928 and died in 2010.
References[edit | edit source]
- Weber, Bruce. "B. H. Friedman, a Novelist, Art Critic and Pollock Biographer, Is Dead at 84", The New York Times, January 10, 2011. Accessed January 11, 2011.
- Kramer, Hilton. "Jackson Pollock; Energy Made Visible. By B. H. Friedman. Illustrated. 293 pp. New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company. $10.", The New York Times, October 8, 1972. Accessed January 11, 2011.
- Sukenick, Ronald. "The Guest Word; By RONALD SUKENICK", The New York Times, September 15, 1974. Accessed January 11, 2011.
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