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Frederick Carl Frieseke

 (1874 - 1939)
Frederick Carl Frieseke was active/lived in New York, Michigan / France.  Frederick Frieseke is known for female figure in interior and landscape painting.

Frederick Carl Frieseke

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born in Owosso, Michigan, Frederick Frieseke became a leading American Impressionist, his principal subject being a single voluptuous female figure, often nude, in a colorful outdoor setting of sun dappled light.  A frequent model was his wife, and together they shopped for costumes including the parasols that were so frequently held by his subjects.

He studied at The Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League in New York, and at age 24, entered James Whistler's Academie Carmen in Paris.  In 1899, he painted mural decorations in Atlantic City, New Jersey for Wanamaker's store and the Shelbourne Hotel.

Lured back to France by the painting style of Impressionism and the freedom and stimulation of the art climate, he became an expatriate from 1905, spending every summer at Giverny, home of Claude Monet.  There Frieseke had a lush garden where many of his models posed.

Frieseke was one of the few American artists elected to full membership in the Society National des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Michael David Zellman, 300 Years of American Art

Biography from Spanierman Gallery
The leading member of the third generation of American painters in Giverny, France, Frederick Frieseke was internationally acclaimed for his colorful, light-filled depictions of the female figure. His signature style, which served as the dominant aesthetic in Giverny for well over a decade, was based on his ability to synthesize Impressionist light, atmosphere, and subject matter with the decorative concerns of Post-Impressionism.

Frieseke was born in Owosso, Michigan in 1874. After the death of his mother, around 1881, the family moved to Florida, remaining there until around 1892. In 1898, after studying at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and at the Art Students League in New York, Frieseke traveled to Paris. He subsequently enrolled at the Académie Julian, where he was one of a number of art students from the Midwest, including Richard Miller, Will Howe Foote, and several others.

At Julian's, Frieseke refined his skills in rendering the figure, working under Benjamin Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens. Around 1898, Frieseke studied briefly under the American expatriate painter, James A.M. Whistler, at the Académie Carmen. Inspired by Whistler's subject matter, as well as by his tonalist palette and his decorative approach towards the figure, Frieseke began depicting women in sparsely-furnished interiors. He exhibited these works at the annual salons, at the American Art Association of Paris, and elsewhere with great success.

In 1904, the French Government purchased one such interior, Before the Mirror, for the Musée du Luxembourg (now the Musée d'Orsay). Frieseke's figure paintings also won him a silver medal at the Saint Louis International Exhibition (1904) and a gold medal at the Munich Exhibition (1905).

During these early years, Frieseke was briefly involved with mural painting, executing two commissions for Rodman Wanamaker, his patron and president of the American Art Association of Paris. In addition to producing mural decorations for the Wanamakers department store in Manhattan, Frieseke also decorated the breakfast room of Rodman Wanamaker's home.

He made trips back to America in 1906, in conjunction with a mural commission for the Hotel Shelbourne in Atlantic City, and in 1907, to complete another mural project in New York. However, with the exception of intermittent visits to the United States, France remained his home for the remainder of his career.

Frieseke made his first visit to Giverny, an Impressionist art colony located on the Seine about forty miles northwest of Paris, in 1898. He continued to make summer trips to the village thereafter. In 1906, he rented a home next door to Claude Monet's that had once been occupied by Theodore Robinson, an early member of the colony. From that point on, Giverny became Frieseke's principle residence, although he continued to maintain a studio in Paris.

Soon after moving to Giverny, Frieseke abandoned the Whistlerian tonalism of his early Paris years and began working with a brilliant, Impressionist- inspired palette. He continued to focus on the female figure, which he depicted in intimate boudoirs, in sunlit flower gardens, and in other secluded exterior settings. Indeed, in 1914, Frieseke summarized his artistic credo for a writer from the New York Times, stating: "It is sunshine, flowers in sunshine, girls in sunshine, the nude in sunshine, which I have been principally interested in . . . My one idea is to reproduce flowers in sunlight . . . to produce the effect of vibration ... ."

Frieseke's work was influenced by Pierre Renoir and, to some extent, by Claude Monet. However, in his strong predilection for decorative pattern, texture, and flattened perspective, Frieseke actually moved beyond Impressionism, developing a style that echoed the Post-Impressionism of Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, Edmond Aman-Jean, and other advanced French painters of his generation.

Indeed, it was Frieseke who established the aesthetic criteria for the third wave of American painters in Giverny. Both his stylistic and thematic concerns were adopted by artists such as Richard Miller, Lawton Parker, Karl Anderson, Edmund Greacen, Louis Ritman, Guy Rose and Karl Buehr, all of whom became widely known for their decorative figure work.

After Frieseke, Miller, Parker, and Rose exhibited their work together in New York in 1910, they were dubbed "the Giverny Group" by New York critics, one writer referring to them as "intensely modern young men . . . They paint sunshine and shadows that are luminous, and they are not afraid to put a figure right out in the glaring light and paint it." Frieseke's preeminence was noted by a number of commentators, among them James Huneker, who described him as "the frankest sun worshiper we have encountered for many years . . . unafraid of the scorching sunshine."

Despite his expatriate status, Frieseke continued to maintain strong connections with American art organizations, museums, and dealers. Indeed, his Giverny years were marked by increasing fame, both in the United States and abroad. In 1914, he was elected an academician of the National Academy of Design in New York.

His numerous awards and prizes included the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor of France; the Fourth William A. Clark Prize and Honorable Mention at the 1908 Corcoran Biennial; the Temple Gold Medal of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (1913); and the Grand Prize at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition, held in San Francisco in 1915. Frieseke's paintings also attracted critical acclaim at the International Exposition of Modern Art in Venice in 1909, resulting in a number of important articles in Italian periodicals. In New York, he was represented by the prestigious Macbeth Galleries, as well as by Grand Central Art Galleries.

In 1919, Frieseke left Giverny and moved to Le Mesnil-sur-Blangy. He continued to portray the female figure, and painted a number of portraits of his daughter, Frances. In his late work, Frieseke moved away from the high-keyed colorism and loose brushwork of his Giverny years, adopting a darker palette and a more structured approach to the figure. He continued to garner recognition for his work, winning medals and prizes at the Philadelphia Art Club (1920, 1922), the Corcoran Gallery of Art (1935), and elsewhere.

Frieseke died at Le Mesnil-sur-Blangy in 1939.

Biography from Hollis Taggart Galleries

Frederick C. Frieseke (1874-1939)

Frederick Carl Frieseke was among the group of American Impressionist artists who settled in the French village of Giverny, forty miles northwest of Paris.  This group, which lived in Giverny in the early 1900s, is sometimes referred to as the Giverny Luminists, was attracted to the village by the presence of the great French Impressionist Claude Monet, who had settled there in 1883.

Frieseke was born on April 7, 1874 in Owosso, Michigan and began his professional life as an illustrator.  Deciding to become a painter, he studied first at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1893 to 1896 followed by a year of instruction at the Art Students League of New York.  He went to France to further his education, arriving in Paris in 1897.  He worked in the atelier of Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant and Jean-Paul Laurens at the Académie Julian.  He also received criticism, if not formal instruction, from Auguste-Joseph Delecluse, and he studied very briefly--perhaps for only one week--in James McNeill Whistler's Académie Carmen.  Nonetheless, Whistler's influence on Frieseke's developing style was strong.  Frieseke absorbed the great master's appreciation for the "infinite gradation" of color that was possible through paint.  The flattened space and flowing line of the Art Nouveau style were also significant influences in this formative period of the artist's career.

By 1901, the first year a Paris address is known for Frieseke, he was residing at 51, boulevard Saint-Jacques in the Montparnasse quarter, an area favored by American artists.  He was within a few short blocks of Delecluse's atelier and the Académie Carmen.  He achieved his first successes with paintings of the nude, one of which was purchased by the French Government in 1904.  Parisian parks and boulevards and summer landscapes painted in the country rounded out his oeuvre at the turn of the 20th century.

Frieseke is believed to have visited Giverny as early as 1900; a summer visit in 1905 is documented; and in 1906 he and his wife moved into a two-story cottage that adjoined the property of Claude Monet.  At Giverny his colleagues included the American painters Guy Rose, Lawton Parker, Edmund Greacen, and Richard E. Miller, with whose work Frieseke's is often compared.  While he maintained an apartment and studio in Paris all his life, Giverny was Frieseke's summer residence for fourteen years.  Once settled there, Frieseke began to create luminous paintings depicting both interiors and outdoor garden scenes, skillfully combining both solidly rendered figures and his interest in overall patterning. Frieseke's palette during his Giverny period primarily consisted of greens, blues and violets, dazzling golds and oranges, and creamy whites, which capture and reflect the brilliant summer sunlight.

In 1920, Frieseke bought a summer home at Le Mesnil-sur-Blangy in Normandy and left the Giverny art colony.  He commenced production of a large group of canvases representing frontally posed female figures, most often using his daughter Frances as model.  The palette is darker than that of his Giverny period and shows more interest in qualities of chiaroscuro as he explored less brilliant light effects.  Works painted after 1920 evidence a great deal of control on Frieseke's part, which, combined with the deeper palette, contribute to a sense of psychological awareness and intensity. 

Frieseke exhibited extensively throughout his lifetime, both in the United States and in his adopted France.  He earned a medal from the St. Louis Exposition of 1904; the Temple Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 1913; a prize at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition of 1915; and the William A. Clark Award from the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1935.  His dealer in the United States was William Macbeth, who regularly displayed his work in one-man and group exhibitions.  Frieseke died on August 28, 1939, a few months after a major retrospective of his work opened at the Grand Central Art Galleries in New York City.

Frieseke's work is represented in the permanent collections of the Telfair Museum of Art, Savannah, Georgia; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Museo d'Art Moderna de Ca'Pesaro, Venice; and the Terra Museum of American Art, Chicago.

Biography from Caldwell Gallery Hudson
Frederick Frieseke was born in 1874. Although he preferred to call himself a self-taught artist he did study at the Art Students League, Academie Julian and at the Modern Gallery in Munich. He also studied under Whistler in Paris for a brief time. Frieske was a leading American Impressionist who moved to France in 1898 and stayed until his death. In 1906 he moved to Giverny, becoming neighbors with Monet who inspired a richer color spectrum.

Frieseke's work from this time has attributes of Monet but subjectively is more similar to Renoir's voluptuous female nudes. His paintings display unified composition with a dominant color, such as "Memories" (1915). A lavender hue seems to permeate every other color. Frieseke also placed strong emphasis on linear decoration. Frieseke was named Chevalier of the Legion of Honor in France. His relative anonymity today is due to the prettiness and sentimentality of his work. He died in 1939 in France.

Biography from Owen Gallery
Originally from Owasso, Michigan, Frieseke received his first artistic training at the Art Institute of Chicago. He later took classes in New York at the Art Students League, before traveling to Paris in 1898. In 1900, Frieseke began to summer in the French town of Giverny, where Impressionist master, Claude Money, had already settled. Despite the proximity to Monet, Frieseke's paintings of large, rounded women display closer ties to the work of Auguste Renoir.

Frieseke is considered the leader of "The Giverny Group"--the second generation of American painters who resided in the artist colony. Other members of the circle include Richard E. Miller, Lawton Parker, Guy Rose, Edmund Greacen, and Karl Anderson.

Frieseke was enamored with Europe and spent much time traversing the Atlantic Ocean during his life. Although he denied official expatriation, Frieseke spent the majority of his life in Europe, dying in France in 1939.

Biography from William A. Karges Fine Art - Santa Monica
Frederick Carl Frieseke was born in Owosso, Michigan in 1874. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League in New York, and in Paris at Whistler's Academie Carmen.

The majority of Frieseke's career was spent in France, where he lived and painted in Giverny, home of Claude Monet. Frieseke fully explored the boundaries of Impressionism and Post-Impressionism during his career.

A frequent theme for the artist was the female nude, set in a garden with dappled sunlight. Highly respected in the U.S. and his adopted country, Frieseke died in France in 1939, one of few American artists elected to the Society National des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Biography from Borghi Fine Art
Born in Owosso, Michigan, Frederick Frieseke became a leading American Impressionist, his principal subject being a single voluptuous female figure, often nude, in a colorful outdoor setting of sun dappled light. A frequent model was his wife, and together they shopped for costumes including the parasols that were so frequently held by his subjects.

He studied at The Art Institute of Chicago, the Art Students League in New York, and at age 24, entered James Whistler's Academie Carmen in Paris.

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About  Frederick Carl Frieseke

Born:  1874 - Owosso, Michigan
Died:   1939 - Le Mesnil-sur-Blangy, France
Known for:  female figure in interior and landscape painting