In the early 1950s, impressed with Friberg’s work for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, director Cecil B. DeMille hired him to work on his monumental film of The Ten Commandments. As assistant art director, Friberg’s first job was to conceptualize key scenes and people as they would appear in the film. As DeMille filmed, he followed Friberg’s sketches and paintings closely. Friberg also designed the film’s opening credits. He received on-screen credit—and his Academy Award nomination—as one of five costume designers on the film. (It was Friberg who designed Moses’ now-iconic robe of dark red striped with black and white.) Friberg’s fifteen paintings of scenes from The Ten Commandments toured the world in 1957 and 1958 and were reproduced in the film’s souvenir program.
In a tribute video from Utah television station KSL, the voice-over reporter notes that “With his stunning use of light, the vibrancy of his colors and his ability to capture the dramatic, American artist Arnold Friberg believed if a work didn’t have heart, it wouldn’t be remembered.” His work does have heart—and majesty, and its own special magic—and it should be remembered.