oil on canvas
68 in. x 53 in. (172.72 cm x 134.62 cm)
Gift of Helen Burroughs Stern in Honor of Gordon Smith,
At once prosaic and idiosyncratic, Jane Freilicher's painterly landscapes underscore the uniqueness of the artist's vision. A native of Brooklyn, New York, Freilicher earned a BA at Brooklyn College before enrolling in the art school of Hans Hofmann (q.v.) in 1947. From there, she went on to take an MA at Columbia University. Despite the strong presences of Abstract Expressionism and French modernism, Freilicher worked almost from the beginning in a figurative mode. She staged her first one-person show at New York's Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1952.
Also in 1952, Freilicher met Fairfield Porter (1907-1975), another figurative painter who became a leader in the New Realism movement of the 1950s and 1960s. The two artists shared "an interest in an informal, fluid vernacular kind of painting" and helped to sharpen each other's work.(1) Through Porter, Freilicher discovered Long Island, where she established a second studio. Since then, she has divided her time between Long Island and New York City. The artist exhibits frequently and has been the subject of several museum shows, including a 1986 retrospective at the Currier Museum of Art.
Freilicher has long been fascinated by the juxtaposition of interior and exterior spaces; not surprisingly, views from her studio windows are among her favorite subjects. The Currier's Sundown depicts a stretch of green countryside seen from the artist's Long Island studio. As with many of Freilicher's paintings, the scene is slightly ambiguous; the panoramic view of landscape and sunset is partially blocked by a hanging curtain as well as a tabletop still life of houseplants and paintbrushes. Neither the table nor the curtain is related to any recognizable architectural framework, and it is unclear whether the viewer stands inside or out.
The sense of visual disjunction in Sundown indirectly recalls the Surrealist paintings of René Magritte (1898-1967); however, Freilicher adopts her odd viewpoint and composition to call attention to the materiality of her subjects. Literally superimposing still life over landscape, Freilicher creates an image that is simultaneously both and neither, whose unconventional mixing of genres forces the viewer to consider each depicted object independently of traditional categories of picture making. This strategy reflects Freilicher's larger goal as an artist, which is, as one observer has noted, to place "emphasis on the vernacular and unpretentious, on subtly wrought physicality."(2)
Sundown was presented to the Currier Museum of Art in 1996 by Helen Burroughs Stern.
1. Jane Freilicher quoted in Robert Doty, ed. Jane Freilicher: Paintings, ex. cat. (Currier Gallery of Art, 1986), p. 49.
2. Klaus Kertess, "Simple Pleasures," in Intimate Interiors, ex. cat. (Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Stamford, CT, 1999), pp. 5-8, at 8.
Robert Doty, ed. Jane Freilicher: Paintings. Ex. cat. Currier Gallery of Art, 1986.
Cynthia Roznoy and Klaus Kertess. Intimate Interiors. Ex. cat. Whitney Museum of American Art at Champion, Stamford, CT, 1999.
1997 Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, "What's New At The Currier: Recent Acquisitions to the Permanent Collection." Feb. 7 - March 31.
2001 Currier Gallery of Art, Manchester, NH, "From Wyeth to Welliver: American Realism of the 20th Century." June 30 - Sept. 3.