Frederick Carl Frieseke
Frederick Carl Frieseke (1874-1939). Frederick Frieseke was one of the leading American impressionists. Born in Owosso, Michigan, in 1874, Frieseke studied at The Art Institute of Chicago beginning in 1893, before going East to the Art Students League in New York City in 1897, and then to Paris in 1898. There, he studied at the Académie Julian, and with James Abbott McNeill Whistler for a short period at the Académie Carmen.
Frieseke’s earliest mature works, images of individual women in interiors painted in fairly close tonalities, reflect Whistler's influence, but once he and his wife settled, in 1906, in the art colony at Giverny, where Claude Monet resided, Frieseke rapidly developed a very original aesthetic which would have an impact upon almost all the later figural painters among the colonists.
The Friesekes rented a house, surrounded by tall walls in which they developed a sumptuous, colorful garden which served as the setting for many of Frieseke's pictures. The outside of their house was painted in strikingly bright colors, yellow with green shutters, while the living room walls were lemon yellow and the kitchen, a deep blue. The artist also maintained a second studio on the Epte River, which ran through the town, where he painted many of his renderings of the nude outdoors.
In Giverny, Frieseke concentrated upon monumental images of women, usually single figures, posed in domestic interiors or sun-filled outdoor settings, often in the floral garden his wife tended so conscientiously. But the rendition of sunlight, not flowers, was Frieseke's primary concern. As he himself acknowledged in 1912, "It is sunshine, flowers in sunshine, girls in sunshine, the nude in sunshine, which I have been principally nterested in for eight years. . . “ Frieseke began to use the
prismatic, rich color spectrum of the impressionists in garden and interior scenes. His adopted impressionistic style never compromised his solid sense of composition. He always thought of himself a realist, reproducing on canvas what he saw in nature.
The parasol - a literal sun shade - is a very common motif in Frieseke's art; it both protects his lovely female models and further emphasizes their position as articles of beauty and recipients of the spectator's gaze. Positioning the female figure on a threshold, between the interior and the outdoors, between shadow and sunlight, was a favorite motif among American Impressionists.
Frieseke's aesthetic influenced a whole generation of Americans in Giverny; significantly, almost all of the major figures of this group were from the Midwest, and like him, had first studied in Chicago; these included Lawton Parker, Louis Ritman, Karl Anderson, and Karl Buehr. Frieseke's innovative techniques gained him international fame following his abundant representation in the 1909 Venice Biennale, while he and his colleagues achieved great renown in their native land after successful exhibitions held in New York City in 1910.