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Eric Fischl

(b. 1948)


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(1948– )

American painter, sculptor, and printmaker, born in New York. He studied at the California Institute of Arts, Valencia, and taught at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, before returning to New York in 1978. Characteristically he paints large figure compositions showing scenes of middle-class American life. These are reminiscent of Edward Hopper but often with a strong sexual element dealing with contentious themes like masturbation and voyeurism. His notorious Bad Boy (1981) shows a boy staring at the open crotch of a naked woman on a bed while he steals a purse from her bag. By the artist's own testimony the process of constructing the picture began with a bowl of fruit on the table and then the streaked light of the sun coming through bamboo blinds. Only after other combinations of figures did he arrive at the final narrative and that ‘transition…from a state of grace to something where the decisions are more complex, people's exchange is more loaded’. Fischl has further admitted that ‘I always thought I would be letter-bombed by feminists.’ He went on: ‘I think that women can recognize the kind of sympathy with which I've portrayed the roles they have been put in, and I think men can identify the conflicts they deal with.’ Robert Hughes described him as the ‘painter laureate of American anxiety in the 1980s’.

Further Reading

R Hughes, Nothing if not Critical (1990)

Subjects: Art.


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