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collections > permanent collection > prints >Jane FREILICHER

Jane Freilicher
(American, b. 1924)
Peonies, n.d.
Etching and aquatint, 26/75, 25 3/8" x 23 1/4”
Gift of Allwyn and Ellen Levine (2000.230)

The paintings and prints of Jane Freilicher utilize odd viewpoints and ambiguous spaces in order to question the nature of material things and the act of picture making. At first glance, Peonies appears to show a pair of floral arrangements on a tabletop, behind which a decorative plate hangs on a salmon-colored wall. Yet it is not clear where the edge of the table begins or ends, and the viewer is uncertain as to whether the surface is a tabletop at all. The golden color of the surface, together with a scattering of small seashells in the foreground, shifts the interior frame of reference to the outdoors, and suddenly it seems as if the flowers could be resting on a sandy stretch of beach. The “plate” on the “wall” now resolves itself as a full moon rising in the reddish twilight. Avoiding clear-cut cues for interior and exterior space, Freilicher compels the viewer to look carefully at each depicted object, prompting him or her to question the nature of reality itself.

Freilicher attended Brooklyn College and studied art with Hans Hofmann before earning her master’s degree at Columbia University.  Taking up figurative art early in her career, she worked alongside Fairfield Porter and was in the forefront among those who began to turn away from Abstract Expressionism in the 1950s.  She has exhibited regularly since then, and today her work is included in many distinguished public collections.