Alfred Frankenstein

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Alfred Victor Frankenstein (October 5, 1906 – June 22, 1981) was an art and music critic, author, and professional musician.

He was the long-time art and music critic for the San Francisco Chronicle from 1934 to 1965.[1] He was noted for championing American art and coining the term Actual Art. His most famous book is After The Hunt, a volume that examined the trompe-l'œil movement in late 19th-century and early 20th-century American art, focussing especially on the painters William Harnett and John Frederick Peto. Among his colleagues, he was noted for his wit and his lack of tolerance for pretension.

Prior to becoming a journalist and critic, he played clarinet in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. He was married to the concert violinist Sylvia Lent.

He was also a professor of Art History at the University of California at Berkeley in the 1970s and a professor of Art History at Mills College in Oakland in the 1960s and 1970s.

Frankenstein was a cousin of Abraham F. Frankenstein, who composed the music of California's official state song, "I Love You, California".[2]


  • After the Hunt; William Harnett and Other American Still Life Painters, 1870-1900. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1953.
  • A Modern Guide to Symphonic Music. New York: Meredith Press. 1966.
  • After the Hunt; William Harnett and Other American Still Life Painters, 1870-1900. Rev. ed. Berkeley, University of California Press, 1969.
  • The Reality of Appearance: The Trompe l'œil Tradition in American Painting. Greenwich, Conn: New York Graphic Society Ltd. 1970.
  • The World of Copley, 1738-1815. New York: Time-Life Books. 1970.
  • Karel Appel. New York: H.N. Abrams. 1980. ISBN 0-8109-0364-4
  • Painter of Rural America: William Sidney Mount, 1807-1868. Washington: H.K. Press, c1968.



  1. ^ Smith, Patrick J. (2015) [2013]. "Frankenstein, Alfred". Grove Music Online. Oxford: Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/gmo/9781561592630.article.A2284355. ISBN 978-1-56159-263-0. (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ "[unknown title]". Ukiah Daily Journal. Ukiah, California. 1982-02-26. p. 5. Retrieved 2017-08-29. Abraham F. Frankenstein was a cousin of the Chronicle's long-time music and art critic Alfred V. Frankenstein