Fred Brenner was born in New Jersey in 1920. He graduated from Newark Arts High School, the first secondary school in the United States dedicated to a primarily Arts Curriculum. He also attended classes at Newark School of Fine and Industrial Art and later studied painting with Charles Alston.
Fred’s first job was as a jewelry engraver, where he learned the attention to fine detail. He later worked as a “pen-pusher” in the Advertising Art Department of Bamberger’s Department Store, which was in the 30’s the premier source of advertising innovation. He became a staff artist specializing in both men’s fashion and decorative illustration for newspaper ads.
Fred continued his fashion work but his lifelong interest in nature and birding led to a series of wildlife paintings and a show at the Kennedy Gallery in New York City. After their two sons were born, he and his wife, writer Barbara Brenner, became interested in the subject of children’s books. They wrote and illustrated many books together such as, If You Were There in 1492, A Bird in the Family, The Flying Patchwork Quilt, Summer of the Houseboat, If You Were and Ant, Let’s Look at Birds, A Dog I Know and If You Were There in 1776.
Brenner illustrated books by many other authors, some of which are, The Drinking Gourd by F.N. Monjo, The Windmill Summer by Hila Fell, Baby Elephant by Ann McGovern and One Day in the Desert by Jean Craighead George.
During this time Fred was teaching Fashion Illustration and Figure Drawing at Parsons School of Design in New York City, as well as teaching in a Master’s Art Program at Syracuse University. Before his retirement he was on the faculty of Marywood University, where he started a special Masters Program in Children’s Book Illustration.
The Fred Brenner art in the Mazza Collection are 186 paintings and drawings comprising images from the following books: Summer of the Houseboat, Rutgers and the Water-Snouts, The Drinking Gourd, The Windmill Summer, Little One Inch, The Tremendous Tree Book and Baby Elephant.
Fred Brenner died in 2006.