November 29, 1924
Brooklyn, New York
|Died||December 9, 2014
Manhattan, New York City, New York
Jane Freilicher (November 29, 1924 – December 9, 2014) was an American representational painter of urban and country scenes from her homes in lower Manhattan and Water Mill, Long Island. She was a member of the informal New York School beginning in the 1950s, and a muse to several of its poets and writers.
Freilicher was at the center of a milieu of important New York painters and poets, including painters Helen Frankenthaler, Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan, Fairfield Porter, Larry Rivers, and poets of the New York School including John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Frank O’Hara and James Schuyler. Along with Frankenthaler, Hartigan, Mitchell, and Nell Blaine, she was among only a handful of women artists who were exhibiting alongside their male counterparts.
Jane Niederhoffer was born in Brooklyn on November 29, 1924. Her parents were linguist Martin and musician Bertha Niederhoffer. She enjoyed painting and drawing as a young child and thought "I might do something in art, not for fame or achievement, but out of a romantic inclination to beautiful things. A free-floating feeling that something was creative in me."
At 17 she graduated from high school and eloped with Jack Freilicher, a jazz pianist. They were married from about 1941 to 1946, when the marriage was annulled. She met Larry Rivers through Jack Freilicher and Hans Hofmann and in the 1950s Rivers and Freilicher were good friends. In 1952 she met Joe Hazan, who was a businessman and dancer before becoming a painter. They were married in 1957 and had one child, Elizabeth. She lived and worked on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan and the couple had a summer house which they built on Mecox Bay in Water Mill on Long Island, New York. Hazan died on October 27, 2012 at 96 years of age. Freilicher died in Manhattan at the age of 90 on December 9, 2014. She is survived by her daughter, painter Elizabeth Hazan, and three grandchildren, Lucian, Katherine, and Benjamin Hicks.
Freilicher studied art under Hans Hofmann and in 1947 earned her bachelor's degree at Brooklyn College. She received her master's degree in 1948 from Columbia University's. Teacher's College, where the art historian Meyer Schapiro was one of her teachers.
As the result of Hofmann's influence she first made abstract expressionist paintings. Then, influenced by artist Pierre Bonnard, she settled into a "softly brushed, meditative lyric" paintings of still lifes and landscapes. She particularly made "urban pastoral" scenes of lower Manhattan and Water Mill scenes which appear to be taken as she looks out her windows. "Usually there is a vase in the foreground, filled with flowers painted in lush, riotous colors, the light behind it..." The Long Island works feature nearby fields and sometimes Mecox Bay. The urban landscapes of lower Manhattan are taken from her penthouse view towards the Hudson River. Freilicher's work was considered by art critic Hilton Kramer to be "pre-eminent among the representational painters of the New York School's second generation." Critic Franklin Einspruch called Freilicher "one of the last true scions of Giorgio Morandi." Freilicher has also made woodcut, intaglio and lithograph prints.
In 2013 an exhibition "Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets" of her work was held at Tibor de Nagy in New York City. It reflected the relationships and inspiration that she was for James Schuyler, Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch. The exhibition traveled in 2014 to Chicago where it put on display at the Poetry Foundation.
In October 2017, New York’s Paul Kasmin Gallery announced its representation of the Estate of Jane Freilicher.
New York School
In the 1950s she became part of an informal circle of writers and artists called the New York School. She was featured in Mounting Tension, a 1950 film by Rudy Burckhardt in which John Ashbery and Larry Rivers fight for her affections. James Schuyler wrote Presenting Jane, in one scene she walked on water. In A Terrestrial Cuckoo O'Hara describes his dream of paddling down a jungle river with her, one of many poems he wrote about her.
Freilicher was a catalytic and consequential presence. She not only forged close friendships with this group of poets, she also served as a muse. They also regularly sought her advice for poems in progress. O'Hara wrote among his most celebrated series of poems about the artists which weaves her name into the titles. Ashbery and O’Hara both dedicated several books to her.
- 1974 - American Association of University Women Fellowship
- 1976 - National Endowment of the Arts Grant
- 1987 - Saltus Gold Medal, National Academy of Design
- 1996 - Academy of the Arts Lifetime Achievement Award
- 2005 - Gold Medal for Painting, American Academy of Arts and Letter
- Brooklyn Museum, New York
- Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio
- Grey Art Gallery, New York University, New York 
- Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
- Museum of Modern Art, New York
- National Academy Museum and School, New York
- Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
- Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Utah
- Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets. 2013. p. 93. ISBN 978-1-891123-09-2
- Jane Freilicher. Tibor de Nagy. February 3, 2014.
- Carol Kort; Liz Sonneborn. A to Z of American Women in the Visual Arts. Infobase Publishing; 1 January 2002. ISBN 978-1-4381-0791-2. p. 72–74.
- Terence Diggory. Encyclopedia of the New York School Poets. Infobase Publishing; 2009. ISBN 978-1-4381-1905-2. p. 172–173.
- Dinitia Smith. "ART; The Views From Her Windows Are Enough". The New York Times. April 19, 1998. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- Ann Lee Morgan, Former Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago. The Oxford Dictionary of American Art and Artists. Oxford University Press; 27 June 2007. ISBN 978-0-19-802955-7. p. 166.
- Jane Freilicher papers (MS Am 2072). Houghton Library, Harvard University. Retrieved February 4, 2014.
- Gina Bellafonte. A Painter Amid Friends. New York Times. May 25, 2013. Retrieved February 3, 2014.
- "Joseph Hazan, 96, artist whose building abutted radicals’ blast". The Villager. November 21, 2012. Retrieved February 18, 2014.
- "Alex Ross: The Rest Is Noise". therestisnoise.com. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- Griimes, William (December 10, 2014). "Jane Freilicher, 90, a Lyrical Painter of Long Island Landscapes, Is Dead". New York Times. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
- Franklin Einspruch, "Out of the Reach of Premeditation: New Works by Jane Freilicher," Art Critical, April 23, 2011
- "Gallery Exhibitions : The Poetry Foundation". poetryfoundation.org. Retrieved 11 December 2014.
- "Estate of Jane Freilicher Is Now Represented by Paul Kasmin Gallery". ARTnews. October 20, 2017.
- Eric Brown, Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets. 2013. p. 5. ISBN 978-1-891123-09-2
- Jane Freilicher: Painter Among Poets. 2013. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-891123-09-2
- "New York Arts- The Complete Guide: Grey Art Gallery‚ New York University". Thirtee, WLIW.