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LifeStory

Matt Freedman

By Jude E. Tallichet

It is with such considerable sadness that I announce Matt's death today, October 24, 2020. We were together in the hospital in Queens and it seemed, in the end, like an easy release. A larger Zoom memorial is in the works. Please stay tuned for information on that. And thank you for all your kind thoughts.


Feel free to publish any memories, photos or stories here. 

Matt Freedman
Memorial
  • born

    1957

  • died

    2020

Michele Araujo

An early drawing.

Nov 7, 2020

Jackie Tileston
From our UPenn Memorial:

We’ve gathered this evening to celebrate, mourn, and share stories about Matt. He was larger than life, someone who taught us about Living, and Teaching, and Making Art, but also about Fighting, and Failing, and Fun.

I ‘ve seen your social media posts these last few days, and the phrases RADICAL GENEROSITY, A HEART GENIUS, and HILARIOUS, EVEN WHEN MOROSE stood out. Yeah, All That.

It’s not just that we all loved him, but he actually changed so many of our lives. More joy, more humor, more risk, more commitment, more insight. There was, quite literally, no one and nothing he wasn’t profoundly interested in and curious about, and we felt that. One of his performances was called Magic and Catastrophe. Yes.

As a colleague, he was a true inspiration – he believed so profoundly in our students, in the realness and poignancy of every struggle and breakthrough. His presence in this department reminded us all why we are here. My only regret is that future classes of MFA’s will not have the experience of that eccentric, wonderful mind – the one the size of a small planet. If there’s any doubt about why you go to Grad School at all, this is the answer – to encounter people like Matt, so you can hear his brilliant voice in your head when you doubt yourself in the future.

I’d like to share a paragraph from his famous Drawing Syllabus – the one that everyone has kept, and reread, and tucked away somewhere safe. It’s basically Matt’s manifesto….

“I am going to make one simple assumption to guide me in this class: we are gummed up, at least more gummed up than we’d like to be. Every artist entertains some level of frustration with their practice, and every artist searchs for the tools to liberate themselves from that nagging sense that things could be better in the studio. “Gummed up” is a deliberately imprecise and goofy term. There’s no point dressing up the fact that artists struggle, often against themselves, to improve their work. The problem may be purely practical: you may want, (and need) to widen your scope of material and skill options. It may be scholastic: you may want, and need, to know more about the history that informs your work: who did and thought similar and more clever things before you. It may be psychological, or if you prefer, spiritual; you may worry too much about what others think of your work and about your own right to make that work in the first place”.

I feel ‘gummed” up by the very idea of continuing without him.

Matt made everyone believe they could be an artist, and that life was worth living no matter what, and that we should do it with gusto. HE certainly did, drawing and laughing through everything. As one student said, “he should be designated a National Treasure”. And so, with the power invested in me by no one whatsoever, I hereby do so.
Jack Plimpton
In 2012, we participated in Matt's "Jeux to Paumes" mirror enactment of the US Tennis championships... except wearing 1780s style white wigs made of packing foam and brandishing Matt's terra cotta busts of the losers (slain French aristocrats) on pikes, while dancing to harpsichord music !!%# Crazy fun! (Look at my wife's expression.) Matt's erudite conceit captured the politics of that year. It was during that same visit to NYC that he told us he had cancer. We were heartstricken. But Matt was unfazed.
Nanda D'Agostino
Dear Jude-I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. I read a tribute to Matt posted by a brilliant young curator here in Portland for whom he was an exemplar of everything that can be good in the art world. At the time I thought “wow!” I wish I had known this person. So it’s doubly poignant to learn he was your partner. Sending love from Portland. May his memory be as a blessing.
Jude Tallichet
Oh Nanda, thanks so much!!
Sue Hettmansperger
This news pierced my soul. I have adored Matt and Jude for many years, since we hung out together all day every day at the University of Iowa as young faculty/ grad students in the 80s. Both brilliant artists, they made wonderful collaborations over the years, and each create unique, astonishing individual works. I hold both close to my heart, and wish I could have been there.
Sue Hettmansperger
Sue Hettmansperger
Yes! We all had such fun together! I remember that convertible! And your career has been wonderful...., I will also post here a drawing he allowed me to take with me, after one of his performances. I love it because it speaks to the desire we all have to be heard and loved in life. And two photos when I visited them several years ago. I walk around tearing up now, thinking about how I missed seeing them on my last trip there. Matt would always meet me somewhere in Manhattan and I would go along for the ride while there; a terribly fun, exciting and smart ride with Matt & Jude.
Sue Hettmansperger
Such fun times in the convertible; I am so glad we met. I think of you often and love your art posted on Facebook!
Matt Freedman
Memorial
  • born

    1957

  • died

    2020