He studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 1963, he graduated from the Graphic Design Faculty under Professor Henryk Tomaszewski and was also Professor Julian Pałka's assistant in the years 1966-68. In 1972-85, he was an associate professor at the State Institute of Art in Gdańsk (now the Academy of Fine Arts). He taught the basics of graphic design. Starting in 1985, he lectured at Hochschule für Gestaltung (currently Kunstuniversität) in Linz, Austria for 25 years. The title of full professor was conferred on him by the President of Austria. Currently, he lives and works in Austria and Poland.
During his academy years, Freudenreich already took part in many poster and graphic design competitions for which he was often awarded and noticed by art critics. In 1966, he was awarded the Tadeusz Trepkowski award. In the same year, he won a prize for his America-America poster in the International Exhibition and Poster Competition in Ljubljana. He received the Golden Plaque award for La Vie de Famille at the Art Directors Show exhibition in New York in 1974 and a gold medal for Don’t Play With Water at the 111 OBP in Katowice. Grand Prix for The Tragedy of Macbeth in Cannes and Paris in 1974 and a prize in Hollywood Reporter's competition (Los Angeles, 1975) for the Hour After Hours poster. His other important awards include a gold medal for Nights and Days in Chicago (1976), Grand Prix for The Noose in Płock (1989) and a Grand Prix for 10 Conference of ICAA Europe in Vienna (1990). In total, Freudenreich has been awarded a dozen or so first prizes in poster competitions both at home and abroad, as well as silver and bronze medals and special awards.
Considered a representative of the younger generation of the Polish School of Posters, he developed a distinctive style which set him apart from his peers and older colleagues.
Freudenreich's characteristic, eclectic language combines elements of photography associated with documentary, which portrays reality in an objective way, with a masterful approach to typography. The artist purposefully forewent on operating solely using refined strokes and spots in order to experiment with more expressive image and typography techniques.
One of Freudenreich's most famous works is Blood=Life, promoting blood donation. It won him multiple awards: 1st prize in a Polish national competition on the topic of blood donation in 1966, the award for the best poster of 1967, Alliance Graphique Internationale award at the 2nd International Poster Biennale in 1968. and a silver medal in Sofia in 1968.
Rescaled, red blood drops are depicted three times. The first one is directed downwards, clockwise. The other two, inverted from the first one, form a heart shape.
Freudenreich uses many different techniques such as wood engraving, heliography, photogravure, and xerography. They enable him to diversify the form and meaning of the communicated content. Ryszard Kiwerski wrote the following about his works:
Freudenreich treats photography as a point of departure for the composition, as a base on which he plays out his colouristic or graphic impressions. Often it will be simply a finished photo modified with painting or graphic techniques which strips it of its photographic qualities and replaces them with a subtle juxtaposition of colours or draws out its texture. The photo becomes an art object, a graphic element in itself.
Although Freudenreich created many iconic posters on social topics which went down in art history, such as SFOS (1963), Blood=Life (1966) or Stop! Child on the Street! (1975), he is best known as an author of film posters.
Among his best-known and discussed works are posters Janusz Pawłowski's Hour after Hours (1974), Jerzy Antczak's Nights and Days (1975), Andrzej Trzos-Rastawiecki's Sentenced (1978), Krzysztof Zanussi's A Woman's Decision (1974, first prize in Los Angeles from Hollywood Reporter in 1976), Camouflage (1978, Brown Hugo Award in Chicago in 1979) and The Constant Factor (1980, silver medal at OBP in Katowice in 1981) and also Andrzej Wajda's The Promised Land (WAG prize at OBP in Katowice in 1975). Freudenreich has also created many posters for international exhibitions presenting the achievements of the Polish School of Posters.
Since 1959, he has regularly exhibited his works both at home and abroad. He has won over 100 first prizes and took part in numerous exhibitions. Among the most important ones are solo exhibitions in Vienna (1968, 2016), Sydney (1970), Warsaw (1974), Poznań, and Linz (1985). Marek Freudenreich's biggest and most important exhibition to date was his retrospective in the Poster Museum in Wilanów (Warsaw) in 2008. It consisted of over 100 posters, with works ranging from the 1960s to the latest ones, created in 2008. Dorota Parszewska, the exhibition's curator, wrote:
According to Freudenreich, it is the inner discipline of composition, often based on geometric shapes, signs – and not an overly developed narrative – that impacts the viewer the most. Masterful typography, which is often the poster's basic theme, is of great importance in the artist's works. Giving it adequate form makes it possible to create a harmonic connection with the image or to juxtapose it based on contrasts.
Freudenreich's works are in collections of, among others, The National Institute of Fine Arts, Xalapa, Mexico; Danish Museum of Decorative Art, Copenhagen; Fox Collection, Pennsylvania, USA, Staatliche Museum für angewandte Kunst und Design, Munich; Municipal Museum, Amsterdam, Municipal Museum, Hague; California Museum of Science and Industry, Los Angeles, USA; Library of Congress, Washington, USA; West Chester University, Pennsylvania, USA; The Museum of Modern Art, Toyama, Japan; The National Museum, Stockholm; National Museum in Poznań, Poland; University of Colorado, USA; Museum of Modern Art, New York; The National Museum in Jerusalem; The Poster Museum, Lahti, Finland; Poster Museum in Wilanów (Warsaw).
Written by Michał Jachuła, Apr 2018, translated by Patryk Grabowski, Jun 2018