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Born in 1911 in Newark, New Jersey, Suzy Frelinghuysen was a prominent artist and opera singer known for her innovative abstract paintings and her contributions to the American Abstract Artists movement. She was raised in an affluent family and spent her childhood primarily in Princeton. Frelinghuysen married fellow artist George L.K. Morris in 1935, and the couple became an influential force in the art world, working and exhibiting together as part of the "Park Avenue Cubists."
Frelinghuysen had no formal art training but began her artistic journey with realistic paintings before adopting an abstract cubist style under her husband's influence. In 1937, she joined the American Abstract Artists group, and in 1940 she became a member of the Federation of Modern Painters and Sculptors alongside her husband. She exhibited her work in group shows of American Abstract Artists from 1938 to 1986.
Her social circle included notable artists such as A.E. Gallatin, Charles Shaw, Ilya Bolotowsky, and Esphyr Slobodkina. Along with the Arps, they were all members of the Abstract American Artists. Gallatin and Morris were part of a publication, Plastique, with the Arps.
Frelinghuysen's unique abstract works often incorporated collages with corrugated paper, clippings from magazines, printed papers, and oil paints. She followed "Parisian Cubism," in which art is inspired by nature. Her key artwork featured in the Exhibition by 31 Women was created in 1942.
At the onset of World War II, Frelinghuysen was living and working in New York City while taking voice lessons. After the war, her primary interest shifted to music, and she became a popular opera singer. She had her premiere in 1947 as Ariadne for the New York City Opera. However, after a bout of bronchitis, she returned to painting, expressing that both painting and opera involved arranging forms and movement.
Frelinghuysen's life and work were primarily based in New York and Lenox, Massachusetts. The Frelinghuysen and Morris House Museum in Lenox, MA, houses their archives and papers. The historic home is open to visitors.
Throughout her life, Suzy Frelinghuysen challenged conventional artistic boundaries and made significant contributions to the world of abstract art and opera, leaving a lasting impact on American art history. She passed away in 1988 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, but her work continues to inspire generations of artists and admirers.