• New York, NY

The New York Times

Friday, September 9th, 2005


Maurice Freedman

A Retrospective

D. Wigmore Fine Art, Inc.
730 Fifth Avenue, Suite 602
New York, NY 10019

Every so often you come across an artist whose work is so appealing and so accomplished that you wonder how it could have slipped under your radar. One example is Maurice Freedman (1904-85), whose paintings (mostly from the 1940's) are displayed in this engaging exhibition. Born and trained in Boston, Freedman moved to New York as a young man and enjoyed considerable success. He exhibited regularly at Midtown Galleries, Manhattan's premier contemporary art showcase, and was included in national roundups like the Carnegie International, the Whitney Museum's Annual Exhibition and the Corcoran Biennial.

Freedman's easel-size, generously painted cityscapes, landscapes and still-lifes look like collaborations between Marsden Hartley and Max Beckmann. in views of the 59th Street Bridge, the Westside Highway running under the George Washington Bridge, and a waterfall in the Adirondacks, Freedman simplified details, exaggerated colors and contrasts of light and dark and pushed monumental elements like the crossbeams of a bridge or jumbled boulders into the foregrounds, creating energetically animated images that have an almost Medieval spatial compression. In later paintings, some made in vacation spots like Cape Cod, or the American Southwest, Freedman's paint becomes thinner and his palette lighter, and you get the sense of an artist with an innately cheerful and hedonistic disposition. His personality was far from the darkly anxious sensibility of Beckmann, the German Expressionist whom Freedman befriended when Beckmann moved to the United States in 1946. The delightful splintery picture of Freedman's attic studio in Hastings-on-Hudson - with its low, slanted ceiling, slightly disordered furniture and art-making equipment and a skinny white dog on the floor - would make a fine New Yorker cover.