Anne von Freyburg’s practice rethinks textile and the decorative within the tradition of painting. It embraces and subverts the female gaze, the feminine and pretty. Historically, craft and decoration have been perceive as lesser than the “intellectual” fine arts. By combining them, von Freyburg challenges this underlying hierarchical system.
At the same time, the artist reclaims the female history of textiles, the feminine, the pretty, decoration, the domestic and female nude. “I paint with materials,” observes von Freyburg.
Embellishment has been associated with the feminine, frivolous, and excessive, and was thus repressed within the rhetoric of Modernism. Detailing and fabric were viewed as decorative extras.
von Freyburg recent work translates old masters paintings from the Rococo period into paintings constructed of a mixture of tapestry and contemporary fashion fabrics. With these works von Freyburg attempts to raise questions about taste, femininity, high and low art and the constructs of female identity. Her work is a celebration of the sensual, textural and visual pleasures of materials and ornaments. Besides its visual pleasures it can also be read as a comment on excessive consumerist’s behaviour and self-indulgence.
Through her work, she seeks a renewed significance and meaning of the decorative, detail and fabric while celebrating the feminine. Von Freyburg is part of a group of artists seeking a renewed significance and meaning around crafted materials.
Anne von Freyburg – Post-Rococo Femininity
By Grace England – Art historian.
Anne von Freyburg’s work formed part of Grace’s Masters of Art thesis at the University of York.
Anne von Freyburg’s work demonstrates a conscious indulgence, not just in traditional feminine tropes of the French Rococo, but in our own ever-evolving concepts of modern femininity. A key theme of this is indulgence, something von Freyburg achieves both visually and materially through her use of textiles, pushing the overt brand of femininity that is promulgated in Rococo art to the fullest. By embracing what she calls the “exuberant behaviour” of the Rococo, she channels traditional notions of high and low taste.
This integral excess is most prominent in the artist’s use of material. Ranging from woven tapestry to snake print, diverse materiality is a way of linking the artwork to the present day. By incorporating modern materials and patterns (such as neon or sequins) she presents an immediate contrast to typical feminine imagery of the French Rococo, while also providing a conceptual connection to the historically feminine roots of craft and textiles. The overall atmosphere of these works is hyper-sensory and aims to challenge what society has conventionally judged to be good taste or “pretty.” von Freyburg states that while the Rococo has often been deemed low art, she consistently takes note of Rococo references in the modern day, specifically in the world of fashion. By using materials with potentially
controversial or erotic connotations (such as rope or latex), von Freyburg pushes her PostRococo art beyond the realm of pretty into that of the fetishised and grotesque.
This fetishisation of typically “feminine” materials ties into another key theme of von Freyburg’s work: female objectification. While the fetishisation of women as the object has usually been understood as funnelled through the male gaze, von Freyburg challenges this
debate by arguing that the female gaze is just as important in endorsing this objectification. In our modern world, where overwhelming mass media confronts us with ever changing beauty standards, she addresses how our objectification of ourselves has evolved, validation now often achieved through material means such as through fashion and plastic surgery.
Clearly influenced by what von Freyburg terms the “opulence and candy sweet colours of the Rococo aesthetic,” her works are not only an indulgence in, but a distortion of modern beauty standards. Quilting creates the impression of botox or lip fillers, strangely undulating faces are formed by an overwhelmingly visual array of fast fashion materials. Such factors
confront us with our own investment in consumerism as a key aspect of modern-day femininity.
Within these iconic works von Freyburg uncovers the darker aspects of both Rococo and modern femininity by addressing modernity’s obsessive materialism. By depicting a highly exaggerated, and yet familiar illusion of beauty, which speaks to us of modern fashion advertising, we are made hyper aware of the image’s superficiality. von Freyburg’s use of Rococo femininity becomes a kind of circus mirror for the viewer, reflecting our own warped sense of beauty and femininity back to us.
2014-2016 Master Fine Art, Goldsmiths University of London
1997-2001 Bachelor in Fashion Design, Hogeschool voor de Beeldende kunsten Arnhem, ArtEZ
2014 Ecole Lesage Paris, Haute Couture Embroidery level 1 en 2.
2018-2019 Florence Trust Residency London 2021 PLOP x Cob. Winter Residency
2021 Winner of The Robert Walters UK New Artist Award 2021 Shortlisted Ingram Prize 2020 Shortlisted Jackson’s Painting Prize
2010 Shortlist LICC Award, International Creative Award, London UK
2016 Art Gemini Prize September 2016, London
2014 Stichting Heij-Konijn Fonds
2014 Stichting Niemeijer Fonds
2022 March, Group exhibition, ‘Fragile’ Letrangere London
2022 June, Duo exhibition ‘Figure This’ with Rinke Nijburg, o-68 Gallery Velp The Netherlands
2021 Robert Walters UK New Artists Award, Saatchi Gallery London
2021 Ingram Prize exhibition Unit1 Gallery Workshop London
2021 ING Discerning Eye Exhibition Mall Galleries London
2021 End of Residency show PLOP x Cob. residency Cob.Gallery London
2021 James Freeman Gallery London, ‘Skin Deep’ Duo show with Nigel Grimmer, UK
2019 Group Show, Zerp Gallery, Rotterdam, NL
2019 Florence Trust Summer Show
2018 ‘Rebel Without A Cause’ ,Zerp Gallery Rotterdam, NL (solo)
2017 Art Rotterdam 2017, Zerp Gallery, (artfair) NL
2016 Tactile Bosch, Cardiff, Wales UK (group)
2016 Art Gemini Prize, Asia House, London (group)
2016 Salon du Printemps, Zerp Galerie, Rotterdam, NL (group)
2015/2016 Schloss Neuenbuerg, Karlsruhe, DE (group)
2015 Fireworks, Zerp Galerie Rotterdam, NL (group)
2015 The Uncanny, Zerp Galerie Rotterdam, NL (group)
2015 Salon, Zerp Galerie, Rotterdam, NL (group)
2015 Dots that go for a walk, Galerie Art Nuyens, Arnhem, NL(group)
2015 Houses of Art Marbella, Spain (group)
2015 PAN Amsterdam, Zerp Galerie Rotterdam, NL (group)
2014 Houses of Art Marbella Spain (SOLO)
2014 TETEM Enschede, Wunderkammer met o.a. Ruben Bellinkx, Anouk Griffioen, Jeroen Kusters, Leon van Opstal, Berndout Smilde en Riette
ArtScope Magazine March/April, 2021 Centerfold. US
Artforum, exhibition ‘Skin Deep’ James Freeman Gallery London.
Embroidery, The Textile Art Magazine, May June 2021, One to watch.
Art Plugged, Anne von Freyburg x Nigel Grimmer ‘Skin Deep’
Art Verge, interview, untitled after Boucher
Textiel Plus, Mixed Media, Spring, issue 65, 2021, Highlight artist
Decorating Dissidence, Anne von Freyburg, Turning wearables into art.
Textile Art Magazine, interview, 2021
The Flux Review 2021, Q&A
Pan and the Dream, US
Textile Curator, interview
Juxtapoz Magazine, Paintings by Anne von Freyburg
Art Viewer, Selection of works at Art Rotterdam, 2017
Creative Boom, six emerging artists to watch in 2017