A small painting by the late George L.K. Morris was sold for $9,375 at Doyle NY Auction Galleries on May 8th, double the price it fetched 10 years earlier at Christie's and double its pre-sale estimate. Titled, "Spatial Perspectives 1953", the oil on canvas measures 16x13 inches and features Morris' interest in surface rotational planes. Morris' auction record of $169,000 was set in May 2008.
The Star Magnolia outside the Living Room is in bloom, the grass is green, and a perfectly built bluebird nest is in the box by the pond.
We are all busily preparing and eagerly awaiting the start of our season, June 20th.
La Montagne, the 4500 pound monumental cement sculpture by Gaston Lachaise,was successfully moved indoors to prevent further deterioration. She has resided in a wooded grove on the grounds since her 1934 commission by George L.K. Morris.The approximately 4'x8' reclining woman was placed on 6 cement posts, six feet high.
La Montagne is the culmination of a series begun in 1913 by Lachaise in New York. The work represents at once a landscape and the figure of Isabel Dutaud Nagle, the artist’s muse, model and eventual wife. Lachaise envisioned a piece that was “great and solemn.” “You are the Goddess I seek to express in all my work,” he wrote to her in 1915-16.
This veritable Mother Earth, mature and abstracted, looking East to the rising sun, offers a rewarding contemplation for people in motion.
E. E. Cummings once likened Lachaise’s work to a “slow arrow of beauty vigorously expressing something of a civilization of which speed seems to be the god.” Lincoln Kirstein, a friend of the artist’s and a founder of the School of American Ballet, described La Montagne as “the balance of breathing sumptuousness, a mountain raised into air, earth sharing the shape of clouds.” (MoMA Retrospective, 1935).
"Richmond Mountain Road twists through dense forest that envelopes it like a drooping canopy. As you drive its undulating path in the Berkshires, the whirl of thickly entangled trees and branches whiz by as if fragmented lines in an abstract painting", writes reporter Tim Kane. Read the full article
"A gem of a house & and collection"-Armen
"Wonderful tour! Guide was so interesting..one of the best guided tours ever"-Dianne & Gary
"Truly an eye opening,inspiring experience to see the art in the context of their living space"-Keely
"Unbelievable! We will tell our friends of this hidden treasure, which doesn't begin to describe it"-Victoria
"Breathtaking and so personal"-Lisa & Bob
"A wonderful glimpse into two creative spirits & minds"-Linda & Stephen
"What an interesting hidden gem"-Ruth
"Lovely walk up the the house & studio..speechless-lovely mix of medias. We enjoyed the garden and gazebo by the pond too!"
You didn't miss the enriching lectures at FMH&S. Click below to experience the first lecture by Clark Art History Professor, Kristina Wilson.
Click on the vimeo icon to view the other four lectures.
Using newly restored and edited films from Morris' 1934 Far Eastern voyage and a selection of Morris' late work, viewers are encouraged to make plausible connections between the paintings and films, and to arrive at possibly one avenue of interpretation.
Click on the vimeo icon to view more films.
Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities, “We the People” grant. The $36,265 award was given to support sustainable conservation of the collections and historic house. It will allow analysis of the complex data collected from a year long, ongoing environmental monitoring program. An outdoor weather station, 27 indoor dataloggers, pollutant data loggers, and microstations were placed on walls, in wall and ceiling cavities and in crawl spaces to collect and record temperature, relative humidity, pollutants and solar gain. This information will be used to understand climate activity inside and outside the house and solve problems such as moisture migration through walls and insure that the correct climate controls are being utilized.
The goal of the “We the People” initiative is to encourage and strengthen the teaching, study and understanding of American history and culture through the support of projects that explore significant events and themes in our nation’s history and culture that advance knowledge of the principles that define America.
The Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio is an International-style house, exhibiting a master Cubist painting collection. Paintings, frescoes and sculpture by Morris and Frelinghuysen, American Abstract Artists, and their colleagues, are also exhibited, along with important period furnishings, within the context of a private house.
Click here to download the 14-page PDF White Paper.
Listen to Director Kinney Frelinghuysen's interview with Alan Chartock about the House & Studio, the stories behind it, and this past season's special exhibit.
Click here to listen to the interview
In 1933, George L.K.Morris and Alexander Calder exhibited together at the Berkshire Museum. Morris most likely purchased the mobile from Calder at that time. The two artists went on to exhibit at the highly publicized "Five Contemporary American Concretionists" show in 1936 at the Reinhardt Galleries in New York.
The mobile's installation in the Crane Room at the Berkshire Museum celebrates the homecoming for the Calder collection which has been on tour in New York, Paris, and Toronto. The Berkshire Museum was the first to give Calder a public commission, the mobiles in the theater. They also gave Morris his first exhibit.
“Indian Composition”, a 1942 George L.K. Morris painting owned by the Corcoran Gallery in Washington, D.C. has been replicated and enlarged to 150’ tall to screen a luxury condominium project in Seoul, Korea. The condominiums are called Mega Hills and sell for $3 million dollars. They are located in the fashionable Gangnam section of Seoul, on Cheongdam Street which is sometimes referred to as the Fashion and Art Street or Rodeo Street, referring to Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, California.
Mega-Mark, the construction company for the project, chose the Morris work for the giant screen to express the artistic and modern flavor of their high end condominiums in a neighborhood full of art galleries and boutiques.
Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio in Lenox, which owns the copyright to the painting, was paid a fee for the use of the image. Director Kinney Frelinghuysen would not disclose the figure but remarked, “It pays for the fully assessed property taxes the Foundation pays to the towns of Lenox and Stockbridge.” He added, “I love that a piece of artwork shown in Seoul can be used to beautify a construction project and pay for schoolbooks in Lenox and Stockbridge”.
“Of all the towns that could have played host to New England’s first modernist building, Lenox, Mass., is among the least likely. When Mrs. Astor’s 400 finished summering at their extravagant, ironically named "cottages" in Newport, R.I., they would shift to Lenox, in the Berkshires, for several more weeks before returning to Manhattan in the fall. Lenox’s cottages embraced many architectural styles, but modernism definitely was not among them,” writes Art and Antiques journalist Sheila Gibson Stoodley. Read the full article
"Of all the historic houses in Berkshire County, the only one in which I feel the presence of non-ghostly inhabitants is the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio in Lenox," writes Berkshire Eagle reporter Milton Bass. "The art that George L.K. Morris and his wife, Suzy Frelinghuysen, incorporated into the very essence of their home gives you the feeling that at any moment one of them may step in from an adjoining room.
Both George and Suzy were culminations of America's social and moneyed elite. George was descended from General Lewis Morris, one of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. Suzy was the granddaughter of Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Secretary of State for President Chester A. Arthur. George's family was fabulously wealthy, while Suzy's was comfortably wealthy. One of the most interesting things about them is that their luxurious life style did not deaden their seriousness about their artistic endeavors.
George knew early that he wanted to be an artist and studied at the Art Students League in New York after graduation from Yale. He then went on to Paris, where he studied with Fernand Leger and Amadee Ozenfant at the Academie Moderne. Cubism then became the base on which his personal art grew and flourished.
Suzy's background was more musical than any other discipline. It wasn't until her marriage to George in 1935 that she began painting under his tutelage. She started with Cubist collages in which she inserted carefully torn pages of opera programs and scores.
Old habits die hard, however, and in 1947 she returned to her first love, music, and won the title role in the New York City Opera's production of "Ariadne auf Naxos." The critics were wildly enthusiastic, especially after she performed the title role in "Tosca." However, she never lost her painterly zeal and returned to it full bore upon her musical retirement in 1951.
George never lost sight of his grail of "purity," and his works extended his abstractions despite the negative assessments by the leading art critics in the 1930s and 1940s.
George had built his studio in Lenox near his parents' great house, Brookhurst, on returning from his studies in Paris. It was the first modern architecture seen in New England. In 1941, he and Suzy decided to spend more time in the Berkshires and they commissioned Stockbridge architect John Butler Swann to design a house that would impeccably attach to the studio. Swann, who had spent time in Arizona and New Mexico, came up with a two-story stucco and glass block house that catches your attention no matter how many modern structures you have encountered. George created a large mural across the wall connecting the house and garage.
Meanwhile, Suzy and George attended the Art Students League in New York, where they studied the medieval art of fresco. George installed his frescoes in the living room, and Suzy did hers for the dining room. Encountering these frescoes today is like entering one of the Egyptian tombs in the Valley of the Kings where the bright colors dazzle your eyes and you know the drawings will never be too old to amaze.
Going through the Frelinghuysen Morris house gives you the same feeling, as you encounter exciting visual experiences one after another room after room.
The exhibition this year is profusely titled "Faces of Modern Art -- Vintage photographs of the artists from the Collection paired with their art work."
George was not only an artist but also a collector and he was equally creative at both. The house has works by Leger, Picasso, Matisse, Miro and Braque, and with each painting is a photograph taken by George or Suzy during visits to the artists in France. Missing from the collection is a Picasso painting titled "The Poet." Rich as he was, Morris ran into cost overruns while building his house, and his trust fund was at a limit. Consequently, he sold the Picasso to heiress Peggy Guggenheim for $4,500, to go in her new museum in Venice.
Along with the exhibitions at the museum, there is covey of lectures planned for July weekends dealing with modern paintings, furniture and architecture.
Well-trained guides, sometimes including Director Kinney Frelinghuysen, Suzy's nephew, conduct the tours of the house and studio. There is also a beautifully produced, hour-long video that gives perspective on the famous couple and their lifestyle. It is shown in the adjacent office and archive building.
George Morris was killed in an automobile accident in Lenox in 1975, and Suzy died in 1988. Her will stated that their house and art collection were to be used for an educational purpose. That has come true in all aspects. But there is also the added joy of spending time with two incredible people and the art they created."
A 1957 painting by the late George L.K. Morris was sold for $104,500 at Christie’s Auction House, New York, in their “Important American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture” sale May 20th. The price was well above Christie’s estimate of $50-70,000 but still below Morris’ auction record of $169,000 reached last May at Sotheby’s Auction House.
Titled, “Labyrinth”; the painting measures 49x36 inches. It was sold by The Montclair Art Museum in Montclair, New Jersey to benefit their Acquisition Endowment fund. The museum had acquired it directly from the artist in 1974, the year before his death.
Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio Director Kinney Frelinghuysen commented that "it is unfortunate for such a beautiful painting to be removed from public view" as it will now go into a private collection.
Morris’ paintings, sculptures, frescoes and archives and those of his wife Suzy Frelinghuysen, can be viewed at the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio in Lenox, MA in their International-style house, along with their collection of Master Cubist paintings. The house-museum is opens June 25 for hourly guided tours Thursday-Sunday.
"For a culture vulture, whizzing through the Hudson River Valley and across the Berkshires in Massachusetts en route to somewhere else can be frustrating," writes Post-Gazette reporter Mackenzie Carpenter. Read the full article
"A window into a world that participated intimately in the art of mid-20th century America..."
"Their love of art permeates the grounds and seeps into our souls..."
"This was the best museum experience I've ever had..."
"We came away from the visit energized and enthusiastic and thoroughly impressed..."
"It's so rare to find a house tour where all the furniture hasn't been looted..."
- Edward, curator
"There is a friendliness and excitement that one doesn't find in bigger museums..."
"I wish I could have known them..."
"You feel like they would walk in at any moment..."
"The simplicity of the architecture allows the nature around it to become more in focus..."
"'Park Avenue Cubists' George Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen were a defiantly nonconformist presence in the conventional world of Forties Massachusetts. The ample fruits of their aesthetic rebellion — their own Abstract frescoes and pieces by celebrated artist friends — can still be seen in the couple's newly restored home, as Carol Prisant discovers..."
Click here to download the 10-page PDF.