Mixed Media

Seashell art



MIXED MEDIA- I combine woodwork, staining and painting, with the art of cutting seashells and marine life to create innovative art and artistry. In my seashell art of assemblage and collage, I select and collate shells for their distinctive shape, size, and color. The Fibonacci spiral, as found in nature, is part of my art.The Mandala like compositions evoke the round carvings of earlier civilizations. Prints are made to order.

In 2018 I was commissioned to create two large mixed media wall pieces, both 50”x70”.

Completed in 2019, both are installed in the New Children’s Hospital, Stony Brook, NY.

SEASHELL ART- In my use of seashells, “Nature’s painted sculptures” are the medium.

I create three dimensional art, assemblages and collages that require a difficult and dangerous skill. Every seashell has been cut by hand, ground flat or raised.  I cut up printer type drawers then join several to create different sizes and shaped boxes. I reconfigure the compartments to create a Mondrian like composition .Every specimen is seen within the 1.25” depth of printer type boxes. Large bodied shells are seen in relief.. This relief aspect evokes the hieroglyphic carvings of ancient civilizations. Relatives of Joseph Cornell, American,1903-1972, the best known assemblage artist, entered my booth at an art fair and they expressed enthusiastic appreciation.

Many of my assemblages and collages are made to order. You can refer to them and provide preference of size, color, saturation (Some compositions have more or less density). You may provide shells you have, but they will be cut and ground from behind.The assemblage and collage I create for you will be very similar to a previous work if you request it. Some shells may be substituted if needed. My signature on the back is that of an artist who received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.The frame retains a plexiglass face. Both are easily removable. I also make tables with versions of my art as the tabletop. In addition, I make tables in which you can add a collection of your own by simply raising he fitted glass.

PAINTINGS- I began to make abstract paintings when I was exposed to the contemporary art being shown in NYC during the years I spent at Cooper Union. I sought to paint about color and light within a linear structure. The lines may be parallel, bisected, or curved. Bands of color interweave, and progress. Opposing bands of color interact. I first apply stain followed by more stain and then paint. The underpainting shows through. Light and color travel and bend in all directions. I use tools in addition to artist brushes. Striping wheels, wood patterns or templates that I make, foam and disposable brushes and paint used for exterior signs and billboards are my tools and materials. Public Collections that included my larger paintings are Chase, Prudential, Continental Group, Citicorp and Marathon Oil.


Fred Brandes was born in Brooklyn, NY in 1947. Drawing, painting, playing sports and street games , woodworking, stamp collecting, reading and fishing were his preoccupations. Brandes’ art inspired teachers to send him to local banks and the Children’s Ward atKings County Hospital. He painted scenes on windows during the Halloween, Thanksgiving, and other Holidays.
After graduating High School in 1965, Brandes was accepted to The Cooper Union School of Art. Brandes moved to the Lower East Side in 1966, within walking distance to Cooper, and the Art Galleries that had opened in SOHO and Tribeca. At Cooper, he was awarded the Alice Keteltas Scholarship in 1968. Upon graduation in 1969 Brandes received his BFA and an award from the Alumni Association. Brandes majored in painting. His instructors included a diverse group of accomplished artists. Robert Gwathmey, a social realist, Paul Resika, who remains a close friend, Ben Cunningham, an optical artist, Victor Candell of the Hans Hoffman School, Nick Khrushenick, a pop artist. George Kratina, a sculptor with an architecural and engineering background, advocated material awareness, substance, concept, environmental space and artistry. His Father was a sign painter. Brandes sometimes assisted and learned about the materials, tools and methods of his trade.
Brandes worked for the NYC Department of Cultural Affairs in 1970-1971. He showed films and conducted art projects for inner city youth. A highlight was the decorative painting of a Parks Department building in the South Bronx. Brandes and an associate oversaw neighborhood youth as they transformed the red brick building into a colorful structure that generated pride.
In 1971, Brandes moved to a small loft on Bowery and Spring St. Many artists lived or worked on Bowery or nearby. Ilya Bolowtowsky, Milton Resnick, Louise Nevelson, Malcomb Morley, Ornette Coleman, Eva Hesse, Peter Heineman are some that I recall.
For income, Brandes provided carpentry, woodwork, and other building services to Galleries, Museums, artists and collectors. He worked along side other artists.
In 1974, A large Brandes painting was shown in the “Contemporary Reflections” exhibit in the Aldrich Museum in Ridgefield, CT. Several art dealers and consultants became interested. William Edward O’Reilly and David Deitcher were the first to show my paintings. Later, Edward Thorp became involved. A highlight was having a painting show at MOMA’s Art Lending Service. It was purchased by Marathon Oil.
In 1977 Brandes received a commission from Cartier, Inc. He was to design and fabricate a sculptural horse figure to be the centerpiece on tables art the Palm Beach Polo Club Banquet. It was based on his interlocking horse figure that was sold at Museum gift shops.
In 1982 Brandes received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship for paintings. In the ensuing months a serious injury interrupted his professional and personal life. After lengthy therapy sessions, Brandes would have to leave NYC. He found a property in Spring, NY where he could resume his two and three dimensional art and artistry.


EDUCATION Cooper Union School of Fine Arts, 1965-69.
Alice Keteltas Scholarship, 1968
Alumni Association Award, 2969
1974 “Contemporary Reflections”, Aldrich Museum, Ridgefield, CT
1975,1976,1978 Deitcher, O’Reilly Gallery, NYC
1978 Edward Thorp Gallery, NYC
1978 “Art in Public Spaces”, 26 Federal Plaza, NYC
1978 MOMA, NYC, Art LendingService
1982,1983 “Brooklyn Artists” Brooklyn Museum,
Community Gallery,
1982 “Alumni Exhibit”, Haughton Gallery, Cooper Union
Cooper Union, 1982
“Springs Artist’s Invitational”, Ashawagh Hall,
1991-1996 East Hampton, NY
1992-2020 “Members Show”, Guild Hall, East Hampton, NY
1994 Elaine Benson Gallery, Bridgehampton, NY
1994,1995 ICFF, Javits Convention Center, NYC, 1994, 1995
1995 “Sit on this”, Islip Art Museum, Islip, NY
1996 Philadelphia Furniture Show, Convention Center
2013 Crafts at Lincoln Center, NYC
2014, 16, 19 “Art on the Green” Montauk Artist’s Association
2014-2020 “Southampton Artist’s Asso., Southampton Cultural Center, NY
2014-2019 Maggie Burbank Art and Craft Show”, Westhampton Beach, NY
2014-2019 “Sag Harbor Art and Craft Show”, Marine Park, Sag Harbor, NY
Artrider Shows, Lyndhurst, NY, 2015, Westport, CT 2016-2019
COLLECTIONS Chase, Prudential, Lyman Allen Museum, Continental Group, Citicorp,
(Public) Marathon Oil, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital
GRANTS National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, 1982-3
Robert C. Scull Foundation, NYC, 1984, 1985
Artists’ Fellowship Inc., NYC, 1908
Mayer Foundation, NYC, 2014
PUBLICATIONS Arts Magazine, Architectural Digest, Residential Interiors, NY Times,
Dan’s Papers, Newsday, Easthampton Star, Chief Executive Magazine
Metro News CA

Contact Info

Phone: 631-324-4739

Email: fredbrandes@me.com