Johnny Friedlaender (26 December 1912 – 18 June 1992) was a leading 20th-century artist whose works have been exhibited in Germany, France, Netherlands, Italy, Japan and the United States. He has been influential upon other notable artists who were students in his Paris gallery. His preferred medium of aquatint etching is a technically difficult artistic process, of which Friedlaender has been a pioneer.
Gotthard Johnny Friedlaender was born in Pless (Pszczyna), Prussian Silesia, as the son of a pharmacist. He was graduated from the Breslau (Wroclaw) high school in 1922 and then attended the Academy of Arts (Akademie der Bildenden Kunste) in Breslau, where he studied under Otto Mueller. He graduated from the Academy as a master student in 1928. In 1930 he moved to Dresden where he held exhibitions at the J. Sandel Gallery and at the Dresden Art Museum. He was in Berlin for part of 1933, and then journeyed to Paris. After two years in a Nazi concentration camp, he emigrated to Czechoslovakia, where he settled in Ostrava, where he held the first one-man show of his etchings.
In 1936 Friedlaender journeyed to Czechoslovakia, Switzerland, Austria, France and Belgium. At the Hague he held a successful exhibition of etchings and watercolours. He fled to Paris in 1937 as a political refugee of the Nazi regime with his young wife, who was an actress. In that year he held an exhibition of his etchings which included the works: L ‘Equipe and Matieres et Formes. From 1939 to 1943 he was interned in a series of concentration camps, but survived against poor odds.
After freedom in 1944 Friedlaender began a series of twelve etchings titled Images du Malheur with Sagile as his publisher. In the same year he received a commission to illustrate four books by Freres Tharaud of the French Academy. In 1945 he performed work for several newspapers including Cavalcade and Carrefour. In the year 1947 he produced the work Reves Cosmiques and in that same year he became a member of the Salon de Mai, which position he held until 1969. In the year 1948 he began a friendship with the painter Nicolas de Staël and held his first exhibition in Copenhagen at Galerie Birch. The following year he showed for the first time in Galerie La Hune in Paris. After living in Paris for 13 years, Friedlaender became a French citizen in 1950.
Friedlaender expanded his geographic scope in 1951 and exhibited in Tokyo in a modern art show. In the same year he was a participant in the XI Trienale in Milan, Italy. By 1953 he had produced works for a one-man show at the Museum of Neuchâtel and exhibited at the Galerie Moers in Amsterdam, the II Camino Gallery in Rome, in São Paulo, Brazil and in Paris. He was a participant of the French Italian Art Conference in Turin, Italy that same year.
Friedlaender accepted an international art award in 1957, becoming the recipient of the Biennial Kakamura Prize in Tokyo. In 1959 he received a teaching post awarded by UNESCO at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. By 1968 Friedlaender was travelling to Puerto Rico, New York and Washington, D.C. to hold exhibitions. That year he also purchased a home in the Burgundy region of France. 1971 was another year of diverse international travel including shows in Bern, Milan, Paris, Krefeld and again New York.
1978 brought a retrospective of Friedlaender's works at the Musee d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris. He was awarded the Lovis Corinth Prize in Regensburg three years later. On his 75th birthday, Friedlaender was given a retrospective in the Bremen Art Museum. On his 80th birthday a retrospective exhibition was held in Bonn, Germany at the municipal council offices. Friedlaender died in Paris at the age of 80.