EvAngelos Frudakis, 97, of Philadelphia, a nationally known sculptor, teacher, and mentor, died Saturday, Feb. 16, of complications from pneumonia at Hahnemann University Hospital.
Mr. Frudakis was a major figure in the world of 20th-century sculpture, not only for the many statues he created for public spaces but also for the influence he had on other sculptors.
“He had a long and productive career,” said David Brigham, president and CEO of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA). “He produced many sculptures that were public commissions and that are still in public spaces.
“He was decorated, recognized by his peers, received commissions, and exhibited in major museums,” Brigham said.
Mr. Frudakis had a national and local reputation. His best-known local works are The Signer at Fifth and Chestnut Streets and Fishing Bear at the Philadelphia Zoo. “Every Philadelphian has seen either one or both of those sculptures,” Brigham said.
His national works include The Minuteman, on display at the National Guard Building in Washington; a bronze female nude, Reaching, in the Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture Museum in Myrtle Beach, S.C.; and a bronze fountain, Icarus and Daedalus, at the Central Arkansas Library in Little Rock.
He created portrait sculptures, including one of President John F. Kennedy that is on display in Atlantic City. He was a regular exhibitor at PAFA, Woodmere Art Museum, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and one-man shows in New York.
In an artist’s statement, Mr. Frudakis said his sculpture was about celebrating life.
“I strive to capture the beauty of the fleeting moment, to arrest and contain it for all time,” he said. “The search for the good and the beautiful is the adventure.”
Mr. Frudakis’ passion was stone carving. Zenos Frudakis, his brother and a noted sculptor, said Mr. Frudakis was “actively carving marble almost until the end.”
At age 90, Mr. Frudakis was awarded the Medal of Honor for lifetime achievement by the National Sculpture Society. It was one of many accolades he received.
Born in Rains, Utah, to William and Christina Frudakis, he knew from the age of 8 that he would become an artist.
He was a student at the Beaux Arts Institute of Design in New York in 1940 and 1941. He then enrolled at PAFA and was drafted into the Army and served as a medic in Europe. Although disabled by injury, he returned to his studies at PAFA from 1945 to 1949.
Later, while creating art, he taught at his own Frudakis Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia. He was a teacher at the National Academy of Design in New York and at PAFA.
“I love to teach, to see the young evolve, and then, suddenly, you see the miracle,” he said in a 2015 interview with PAFA.
Zenos Frudakis said Mr. Frudakis was active as a mentor. “He mentored me, as well as legions of others, including both his son and daughter. All of us have careers creating public sculpture.”
When not in the studio, he enjoyed art history, dancing, and reading. He played violin, lyra, and harmonica.
In addition to his brother, Mr. Frudakis is survived by his wife, Gerd Frudakis; a son, Anthony Parker Frudakis; a daughter, Jennifer Frudakis-Petry; three grandchildren; four sisters; and another brother.
A memorial event will be from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, March 30, at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 128 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, Pa. 19102.
Donations may be made to PAFA at the address above.