WILLIAM FREED & LILLIAN ORLOWSKY: Together

11 January – 9 February, 2008

ACME Fine Art’s opening exhibition for 2008 will be a survey of paintings and drawings in a variety of media by two New York School artists who shared more than stylistic affinities. William Freed (1902-1982) and Lillian Orlowsky (1914-2004) led parallel lives as artists. They were husband and wife since 1942. They shared educational experiences at the Educational Alliance Art School, the Art Students League, and most importantly- the Hans Hofmann School of Fine Art in New York as well as Provincetown Massachusetts. Both were employed by the Works Project Administration, he in the Education and Mural Divisions, she in the Mural and Easel Divisions. Furthermore, they exhibited their work in many of the same venues. In the late 1930s and early 1940s both participated in group exhibitions at ACA Galleries in Manhattan. In the 1950s they founded along with a small group of friends and colleagues- one of the early artist’s cooperative galleries in New York called the James Gallery. Both exhibited work regularly there during the Fall and Winter months, and at the Provincetown Art Association and Museum between April and October.

Despite the numerous stylistic affinities that can be seen in their work, and the other curatorial links associated with their life-long artistic dialog and relationship, any attempt to exhibit the artwork of Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed side by side prior to this exhibition has been more accidental than intended. This is probably because as the primary promoter of their artistic careers Orlowsky always put Freed first. Interestingly, despite consistent recognition which began with the selection of one of her paintings for inclusion in the 1939 New York World’s Fair exhibition, and continued with her participation in numerous group exhibitions in New York and Cape Cod, Orlowsky’s first solo exhibition did not happen until 1985, the year following Freed’s death. Anyone who knew Lillian knows that she was a confident artist who had high regard for her own work. Her deference to Freed was more likely a product of Orlowsky’s total respect for the artist that was her husband, and her acceptance of what she considered to be her role in the relationship. For whatever reason, the two never shared studios or exhibitions.

Regardless of why a joint exhibition of Freed and Orlowsky’s work has not been undertaken in the past, ACME Fine Art’s gallery director David Cowan’s decision to mount a joint solo show is based on what he believes can be learned by looking at their work side by side. Freed & Orlowsky were both participants in the development of the radically avant-garde movement that has come to be known as Abstract Expressionism. The sprit of this movement and of this time helped build a community of artists that included their friends and colleagues: Hans Hofmann, George McNeil, Giorgio Cavallon, Mercedes Matter, Jan Muller, Myron Stout, James Gahagan, Paul Resika, Myrna Harrison, Haynes Ownby, and many more too numerous to mention. By looking at the work together the curatorial intent is that Lillian Orlowsky and William Freed’s tremendous individual artistic strengths be illuminated by proximate comparison, and that by viewing the work in this manner we will better understand both the artists and the spirit of their time.

ACME Fine Art’s exhibition of artwork by William Freed and Lillian Orlowsky will open with a reception from six to eight on the evening of Friday, 11 January 2008. The exhibition will be on view in ACME Fine Art’s 38 Newbury Street, Boston, galleries through Saturday 9 February. Please contact the gallery at 617.585.9551 for further details. Gallery hours are 11:00 to 5:30 Tuesday through Saturday.