A millennium milestone will be celebrated on March 20th when
Frederick Carl Frieseke: The Evolution of an American
Impressionist, the largest and most comprehensive traveling
exhibition ever to be organized by the Telfair Museum of Art,
opens in Savannah. Almost four years in the making, the
retrospective contains more than 80 works and will travel to three
other venues: the San Diego Museum of Art, the Terra Museum
of American Art in Chicago, and The Dixon Gallery and Gardens
in Memphis. Some of the works, deemed too fragile to travel, are
exclusive to the Telfair.
Accompanying the exhibition will be a handsome 220-page
full-color hardback catalogue published by the Telfair and
distributed jointly with Princeton University Press. In addition, a
30-minute documentary with footage filmed in France, plus a
charming children’s book illustrated by Savannah’s own Harriet Delong, and numerous special
events complement the retrospective.
Recognized during his time as America’s best
known painter internationally, Frieseke is
considered one of our countrys finest
Impressionists. In this retrospective, the full
breadth of his genius will be revealed through
examination of the three phases of his artistic
evolution--from his early period, to his fully
developed Impressionist stage, to his later
more realistic work.
Friesekes early phase--from his arrival in
Paris in 1897 until his move to Giverny in
1905--was influenced by the academic style
favored in the Paris salons and the tonal
approach of his famous teacher James McNeill
Whistler. The Yellow Room (above) bears
witness to this influence in its tonal
arrangements and Japanese accessories.
The second phase of Friesekes evolution--1905 to
1920--began after he settled in Giverny, where he
adopted a looser brushstroke and lighter palette,
working in the characteristic Impressionist style for
which he is best known. He became a dominant force in
the Giverny Group, a circle of expatriate American
painters who lived and worked in this picturesque
French village and celebrated artists colony during the
early 1900s, establishing as its primary theme the
female figure in sunlit gardens or intimate boudoirs.
The exhibition will focus on many works from
Friesekes Giverny years, including Lady in a Garden
and The Garden Parasol.
Although Frieseke has often been described as a painter
of pretty women, his principal concerns were actually
sunlight and its varied effects. In his own words, It is
sunshine; girls in sunshine; the nude in sunshine, which
I have been principally interested in...If I could only
reproduce it exactly as I see it I would be satisfied.
In 1920 Frieseke moved his family to Normandy where
he entered the final stage of his painting career.
Returning to his early tonalist style, he adopted a more
realistic approach while retaining his enduring interest in
reflected light on the female form.