Jane Neiderhoffer Freilicher, a Brooklyn native, was a lyrical painter of luminous Long Island landscapes and graceful still lifes whose career spanned over sixty years. Emerging from the second generation of abstract expressionists, Freilicher adopted a unique artistic approach and established her own distinct painterly realism.
After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School as valedictorian, Jane enrolled at Brooklyn College. In 1941, she eloped with her first husband, Jack Freilicher, a jazz pianist. She first took up painting and sketching as a way of occupying herself during her husband’s band rehearsals. She furthered her education at Columbia University Teachers College, studying under art historian Meyer Schapiro (1904–1996). Her earliest paintings from this time depict lively rooftop views of downtown Manhattan as seen from the window of her top-floor tenement apartment.
At the urging of fellow artist and friend Nell Blaine (1922–1996), Freilicher took up an apprenticeship with famed painter, teacher, and abstraction theorist Hans Hofmann (1880–1966). She incorporated the expressionist style of paint-handling she learned from Hofmann into her own work. However, her subject matter leaned toward figurative realism.
She most often painted views of the marshes outside her studio window in Water Mill, Long Island, where she and her second husband Joe Hazan settled in 1961. Her landscapes frequently featured elements of still life in the foreground, creating a contemplative point of perspective, simultaneously interior and exterior. She used vibrant, joyful colors to express the pleasure she derived from the visible world. In her own words, her paintings are “an emotional reaction to something I find beautiful in the subject, which provides the energy, the impetus to paint.”
Her primary artistic influences were Pierre Bonnard (1867–1947), Édouard Vuillard (1868–1940), and Henri Matisse (1869–1954). Among her friends and admirers were New York poets John Ashbery (1927–2017) and Frank O’Hara (1926–1966), as well as fellow painter Fairfield Porter (1907–1975).
Freilicher exhibited regularly at New York galleries Tibor de Nagy and Fischbach. She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Academy of Design and was awarded high honors from both organizations. Her work is widely collected by museums throughout the United States, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Parrish Art Museum, the Portland Art Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art.