Jane Freilicher Is the "Absurdly Underrated" Artist Who Painted Flowers Like No One Else Could

By Julia Felsenthal

When the exclusive, all-male Century club in midtown Manhattan finally buckled under pressure to let in women members in the late 1980s, the painter Jane Freilicher, then in her 60s, heard she was on a preliminary long list of possible candidates. But Freilicher, who passed away at 90 in 2014, balked at the honor. “She said, ‘Why would I go there?’ ” her daughter Elizabeth Hazan remembers. When newspapers eventually published the names of the Century’s first female inductees—including Jackie Onassis and Toni Morrison—Freilicher kept the clipping in her studio, but expressed only the slightest bemused regret: “Well, I wouldn’t have gone, but maybe if I’d known . . .”

“She used to joke about not going above 14th Street if she didn’t have to,” Hazan, herself a working artist, remembers. We are standing in a white box room in Chelsea—N.B.: 13 blocks above 14th street—where 15 of Freilicher’s early paintings are now on display for her premiere exhibition, “Jane Freilicher: ’50s New York,” at the Paul Kasmin Gallery. (Previously, she showed mostly at Tibor de Nagy. The hope in changing representation, says Eric Brown, former Tibor de Nagy co-owner and current advisor to the estate, is that Kasmin can help expose Freilicher’s work to a wider, more international audience and attract greater attention from major museums.)

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Image: Jane Freilicher in her studio, 1972. Photo by Joe Hazan.

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