Suzan Frecon - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session New York Thursday, May 19, 2022 | Phillips
  • "Landscape, architecture, human beings and their consciousness: it is all there, but it’s not a depiction. I think every artist is trying to find their truth, of how to build a painting and turn it into art. I am working inside my own mind. The painting is to be seen, and experienced. It should come off the wall and become a presence with you."
    —Suzan Frecon
    With works held in esteemed public institutions such as The Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, Kunstmuseum Bern and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Suzan Frecon’s all-encompassing abstractions are “not pictures that you look at” rather they are “paintings that you experience.”i Light & Earth, which has remained in the same collection since its creation in 1986, is one of Frecon’s early explorations of the capabilities of color, composition and scale, which continue to dominate her practice today. Painted in layers upon layers of thin applications of oil paint, the present work, while entirely abstract, is undoubtedly a landscape. A mountainous form occupies the majority of the composition beneath which emerges a rich, earthy red sky at the top. Aptly titled, here Frecon has used the capabilities of texture and pigment to portray the juxtaposition of earth’s surface with a setting sun. As such, Light & Earth illustrates a natural phenomenon without definitive representation. 



    The Truth of Painting 

    Born in Mexico, Pennsylvania, Frecon later spent three years at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris in the early 1960s and works today from her studio in the Hudson Valley in upstate New York. In all of the places she has lived and visited, from the farm she grew up on, to her travels throughout Europe, and her New York City loft in the 1970s, natural light has always and remains to be an important aspect of her working environment. In fact, it is her intention that her paintings be experienced in natural light where she feels “you could see every nuance — the truth of the painting.”ii Indeed in natural light, Frecon’s painterly nuance is most evident. In the present work, close inspection reveals paint which has pooled in some places with a glossy sheen, while other areas remain matte and homogenous. Of her intention, she says, “a pristine, smooth surface would not be as interesting or handmade. I want my work to be intimate and sensual.”iii    
    "[Frecon’s paintings] combine Rothko’s color at its most winey and most somber with the carefully modulated geometries of Ellsworth Kelly, but are always clearly handmade, painted with a meditative quality that evokes Morandi." 
    —Roberta Smithiv 

    Giorgio Morandi, Still Life (Natura morta), 1940. Museo del Novecento, Milan, Italy, Image: Mondadori Portfolio/Electa/Luca Carrà / Bridgeman Images, Artwork: © 2022 Giorgio Morandi, Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/SIAE, Rome


    i Suzan Frecon, “text and related work” in Suzan Frecon: oil paintings and sun, exh. cat., New York, David Zwirner, 2015, p. 63.
    ii Suzan Frecon, quoted in Jennifer Sament, “Beer with a Painter: Suzan Frecon”, Hyperallergic, November 21, 2020 (online)
    iii Ibid.
    iv Roberta Smith, “Art in Review: Suzan Frecon: ‘Oil Paintings and Sun’”, The New York Times, March 19, 2015, online.

    • Provenance

      Private Collection (acquired directly from the artist)
      Thence by descent to the present owner

Minimalist Paintings from an Important Private Collection


Light & Earth

signed and dated "Suzan Frecon 1986" on the reverse; signed, titled and inscribed "LIGHT and EARTH PAINTING (color and composition series) S Frecon 112 Chambers" on the stretcher
oil on canvas
70 x 93 7/8 in. (177.8 x 238.4 cm)
Painted in 1986.

Full Cataloguing

$70,000 - 100,000 

Sold for $75,600

Contact Specialist

Annie Dolan
Specialist, Head of Day Sale, Morning Session
+1 212 940 1288

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale, Morning Session

New York Auction 19 May 2022