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Suzy Frelinghuysen

Also Known as: Estelle Condit Frelinghuysen Morris, Estelle Condit Frelinghuysen, Suzy Morris, Susie Frelinghuysen

Born:
Newark, New Jersey 1911

Died:
Pittsfield, Massachusetts 1988

Active in:

  • New York, New York
  • Lenox, Massachusetts

Biography

Born into a prominent New Jersey family in 1912, Suzy Frelinghuysen displayed an early interest in painting and drawing but never undertook formal art studies. She painted in a realist style until the time of her marriage to George L. K. Morris in 1935. Morris, an abstract painter and collector, introduced her to the work of European modernists such as Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, Georges Braque, and Juan Gris, which inspired Frelinghuysen to work in an abstract Cubist manner. She was initially attracted to the Synthetic Cubism of Gris, but unlike him, she opted for a more intuitive approach and richer surfaces in her oil and collage paintings of the 1940s.

In 1937 Frelinghuysen joined the American Abstract Artists group and exhibited her work in most of the organization's shows in the following years. Frelinghuysen and her husband, along with artists Charles Shaw and Albert Gallatin- all from well-to-do backgrounds- were sometimes irreverently referred to as the "Park Avenue Cubists."

Although she retained a strong commitment to painting, Frelinghuysen embarked on a second career in the 1930s. After training as a professional singer, she earned critical praise for her performances in operas and concerts from the late 1940s to the early 1950s.

National Museum of American Art (CD-ROM) (New York and Washington D.C.: MacMillan Digital in cooperation with the National Museum of American Art, 1996)