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Dave Fox (1920-2011)

  • Dave Fox was born in Vienna, Austria in 1920.  He lived there until shortly after the Nazi Annexation of Austria.  Dave left Vienna, not by choice, but because staying in Vienna meant risking his life.  Dave crossed the German-Belgium border, seeking refuge in Belgium.  From there he came to the United States in December 1939, and settled in Los Angeles.  So profound was this change to his life that he only passed through Vienna once since leaving over 70 years ago.  In the fall of 2009 Dave chose to return to Vienna.  More importantly, this time he returned as an accomplished artist, to share his art and the powerful stories that each piece tells. Dave adjusted to life in California with the assistance of the German/ Jewish Hiking Club, part of the Jewish Federation Refugee Assistance Program.  Once settled in the United States, Dave was inducted in and served with the U.S. Army in the Philippines and Japan.  Returning to the US, Dave studied at some of the early renowned art schools in Los Angeles.  His early art training was another defining moment in his life, and both his abilities as an artist, and his style, emerged as a result of this high level of training. It was also at this time that Dave began to articulate the subjects and media that would define him and identify him as an artist. He studied with well-known artists such as Rico Lebrun, Frances de Erderly, Emil Bistram and Guy McCoy, who introduced Dave to printmaking.  He would go on to earn his BFA, MA and MFA.  Dave dedicated his life to perfecting his skills at drawing, painting and ceramics, with a special emphasis in printmaking.

    Dave was an observer of life and translated all that he saw, heard into his artwork.  Growing up in Vienna, the countryside was his playground.  Dave belonged to skiing and hiking groups where he gained his observation skills. His childhood in Vienna would leave a lasting impression on him that would continually influence his art and his world view.  He transferred these skills to his new life in Los Angeles.  His sketchpad, a constant companion, became his vehicle for documenting everything he sees in the world around him. His early works from the late 1940s and early 1950s, capture the ever-changing landscapes of Los Angeles.  The California landscape from the mountains to the Pacific Ocean and all the streets in between served as the backdrop for his creative expression.  Dave divided his artwork equally between landscapes, people and abstracts.  Throughout his long career he returned again and again to themes that reflected on his Jewish upbringing and a life long commitment to Judaism.  Other works are also symbolic of his early memories of life in Vienna, including the influence of the theatre.  Dave’s artwork brings together all of the pieces of his life and pays homage to the accomplishment of one man who stayed true to his vision to make sure his voice was heard and not silenced.

    Written by Georgia Freedman-Harvey, Curator for the Dave Fox Collection

    Dave Fox in his own words:


    ”One of the fondest moments in growing up are the stories parents tell their children at bedtime. I am a painter of stories, not of words but of paint, ink and clay.  My stories are not of the glitter, gold or of high society ladies, nor of the less glorious ladies of the night.  Mine are stories of people like you and me, skilled craftsmen, small business owners and retirees.  I paint and draw the people who once in several years can afford to take a holiday cruise; People who take their children Sunday afternoons to museums, and folks who attend festivals, concerts and the theater.

    My art doesn’t stop egomaniac nuts from grabbing power but neither did great artists like Kollwitz, Grosz or Dix.  My work doesn’t keep ambitious politicians and generals from starting unjust wars, but neither did the great cartoons of “GI Joe” by Bill Mauldin.  If my paintings and prints make you stop for a moment, to look and think and walk on with a smile on your face, that would be enough, but I hope you look closer and enter my world as viewed from my life as it played out in California oceans away from my beginnings in Vienna.”
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