Digital Dialogues — Jake Fried

An Art Historical Analysis

Particle Collection
4 min readDec 4, 2023

Jake Fried’s experimental animations can be treated as dynamic paintings, intertwining meticulous craftsmanship with a dedication to mark-making. These traditions trace back to prehistoric cave paintings and align with the expressive gestures of Abstract Expressionists. The rich compositions of Jake Fried nod to several art historical movements: from Surrealism, to Symbolism, and the Avant-Garde.

Early Years and Inspirations

In his formative years, Fried studied art, worked at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and began his practice by creating large abstract paintings. As Fried transitioned into the realm of experimental animation, echoes of Abstract Expressionism persisted throughout his creative process, with Fried attributing this as the most vital part of his practice. This labor-intensive approach became a narrative in itself. Jake Fried then began to investigate the passage of time by capturing the evolving nature of images, similar to a visual diary.

Rene Magritte “The False Mirror” (1928) | Jake Fried “Night Visions” (2022)

Jake Fried & Surrealism

The dreamlike quality in Fried’s oeuvre draws parallels with the Surrealist movement. His pieces are reminiscent of artists like Salvador Dalí and René Magritte who explored the subconscious depths and the unconscious mind. He refers to his process as a stream-of-consciousness approach heavily focused on eerie introspection exemplified in pieces like “Night Vision.” The work points to a personal journey documented over time as a way of understanding himself as human and his place in the world.

Jake Fried “The Deep End” (2013) [left] | Francis Bacon “Figure with Meat” (1954)


Works like Jake Fried’s “The Deep End” have a darker, more uncomfortable undertone. Reminiscent of the existential angst depicted in the works of Francis Bacon, Fried’s work contributes to the broader post-war existentialist discourse, in a contemporary context.

Gustave Moreau, “The Apparition” (1876) | Jake Fried, “North Star” (2023)

Spirituality & Symbolism

Themes of spirituality, and cosmic imagery are all integrated in Fried’s works which further connects him to the Symbolist movement of the late nineteenth century. His recent piece, “North Star” shares affinities with Gustave Moreau’s fantastical and symbolic paintings. Much like the Symbolists, who sought to deliver mystical and metaphysical subject matters through suggestive and allegorical symbols, Fried’s animations investigate the unknown and the transcendental.

Oskar Fischinger, “Motion Painting no. 1" (1947) | Jake Fried, “Mind Frame” (2016)

Dynamic Paintings

Jake Fried can also be seen to align with avant-garde movements of the 20th century. He contributes to the ongoing evolution of experimental animation in the lineage of pioneers like Oskar Fischinger and Norman McLaren. Fischinger’s experimental films were created by painting with oils on Plexiglas — an early exploration into the dynamism explored by Fried.

Jake Fried Now

As a whole, Fried’s work weaves a narrative that spans centuries and contributes to enduring themes present in art. His practice embodies mark-making, expression, experimentation and the human consciousness, while embracing the possibilities offered by technology in the 21st century. Through his engagement with historical precedents and animation within the digital sphere, Fried adds a distinctive chapter to the evolving narrative of art history. From the communal aspects of ancient cave paintings to the didactic role of religious iconography, art has predominantly served as a medium for expressing ideas, emotions, and shared experiences. Fried’s work continues this tradition by leveraging digital animation as a tool for communication, community engagement and the exploration of the human condition.

Jake Fried is a contemporary artist, whose films have been auctioned at Christie’s, exhibited at the Tate Modern and Sundance Film Festival, and commissioned by Adult Swim, Netflix, and numerous art galleries around the world.



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