Fred Nicholas became engaged in the pursuit of art in 1950 when he was a law student at the University of Chicago. What little spare time he had was spent at the Chicago Art Institute exploring the art of old and new cultures. Upon graduating from Law School, Nicholas took art courses at UCLA and USC.
During his legal career, Nicholas represented numerous artists and art galleries including William Brice, Paul Kantor Gallery, Ernest Raboff Gallery, Margo Leavin Gallery, Frank Perls Gallery, Martin Lowitz Gallery, ACE Gallery, Harry Franklin Gallery and Felix Landau Gallery.
Nicholas began collecting art in the 1950’s and purchased contemporary and primitive art from dealers and auction houses throughout the country. He collected Rauschenberg, Warhol, Stella, Lichtenstein, Reinhardt and many of the New York School artists as well as Pre-Columbian, African, New Guinea and American Indian Art.
His interest in art brought him to the various institutions in the art field. Nicholas served the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles as Chairman for Five years, Vice Chairman for 4 years and serves as a Life Trustee. He is presently a Trustee of Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation and Frederick R. Weisman Philanthropic Foundation.
He was the principal advisor to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Santa Monica Museum. He located the site for MOCA’s Temporary Contemporary (now The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA) and negotiated a 99-year lease with the City of Los Angeles and MOCA. Nicholas hired the architect and supervised the design and construction of the Building. He headed the architectural committee for the development of the MOCA building on Grand Avenue, supervised architect Arata Isozaki and was in charge of the construction project for 5 years.
Nicholas served as the first Chairman of the Walt Disney Concert Hall Committee, guiding the development of the building. He created the program and architectural infrastructure for the Concert Hall including the selection of the architect and the acoustician, Nagata & Associates. He served as chairman for 8 years.