Light, Time and Motion: The Paintings of Tibor Freund
Freund’s interest in kinetics, luminosity, space, temporality, and surface place him in a high profile, international, artistic community. One thinks of the iron sculptures of Jean Tinguely; the grids of Victor Vasarely; the Op works of Bridget Riley. Perhaps what sets Freund apart from his better-known colleagues is that his paintings emphasize nature, body, even objecthood; they convey a ringing physicality.
Freund had an unusual nomadic professional life before moving to New York in 1953 and beginning to paint seriously. In 1932, he earned an architecture degree in Zurich. Eight years later he went to Tehran, built a sample town and was a maintenance artist for the Golden Mosque, opened a portrait studio and eventually supervised the architecture of the Palace of Justice. In 1947, he returned to Budapest and continued his work on architecture and industrial designs. But he, like many individuals at that time, was displaced by the expansion of the Soviet Empire and relocated, first to Israel, where he lived for four years. Finally, he came to New York and it was here that he chose to obtain citizenship and pursue his architecture and art rigorously (Freund died in 2007).
Freund’s decades-long success in New York was due primarily to his creation of “motion paintings” in 1957 “to show our world in motion as seen by the spectator in motion.” He acknowledged the influence of fellow Hungarian born artist, Maholy-Nagy, whose book, Vision in Motion, brought up the issue of the mobile viewer. By fusing up to 4 picture planes into a single composition, Freund was able to create the illusion of change and motion as the viewer looked at the painting from various angles, thus capturing the modern tempo surrounding him. In 1962-3, Freund’s theory of PAINTING IN SPACE predicted that he would “set canvas-bound painting free” and would show the way to future painters to express, with contemporary means, the liberation of “Earthbound” Man:
Painters create the illusion of 3 dimensional SPACE
by putting paint onto 2 dimensional PLANES.
In order to create the illusion of 4 dimensional MOTION
I am putting paint into 3 dimensional SPACE.
Thanks to collector, Michael Chutko, together with artist Raffaele D’Onofrio, Freund was “rediscovered.” After acquiring his first painting, Mr. Chutko went to visit the artist in his Jackson Heights, New York apartment and was taken aback by the quality and depth of what he saw. He realized he had stumbled upon someone who had significant relevance to the art movements of the late 1950s and early 1960s. With this discovery, Mr. Chutko brought friend and artist, Raffaele D’Onofrio on a consequent visit to the artist’s home. D’Onofrio recalled Freund’s work from the 1960s and both agreed on the urgency and importance of re-introducing Tibor’s work to the world. Their discovery led to conserving these works, and to this exhibition of work that remains acutely relevant today.