Eric Fischl's Works Essay

Pages: 5 (1652 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 3  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Art  (general)

Eric Fischl

It comes as no surprise that many of Eric Fischl's paintings focus on suburban life. Born in New York City in 1948, he was raised from a toddler on Long Island, which his parents considered a "safer place to raise a family." Mired in an environment of the alcoholic country club set, which was fixated on image, Fischl created normally unseen views of suburbia. In his first New York show at the Edward Thorp Gallery, he quickly was recognized for his "psycho-sexual suburban dramas." His first radical paintings were clear narratives of domestic bodies, frequently naked with legs spread apart, captured lying listlessly on their king-sized beds or impatiently tanning themselves on crowded beaches. In Sleepwalker (1979), a post-pubescent boy masturbates in a backyard wading pool over his own shadow as two empty lawnchairs view him from the sidelines. In Bad Boy (1981), an older woman, who rests nude on her bed, picks at her foot, as a young boy secretly slips his hand into her purse (Eric Fischl Web site).Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Essay on Eric Fischl's Works Assignment

Fischl received his Bachelor's of Fine Arts in 1972 at the then newly opened California Institute of Arts in Valencia. For several years he waivered, not knowing what or if. "I was 22 or 23. By my second year I was pretty much floundering, and I was freaked out about what to do. I finally decided one day that I was just going to glue some images of cowboys onto a painting, paint a wreath around them and paint some railroad tracks. I didn't take any of it seriously, but I did get into it (Tillim). It took him some time to lose his paranoia about being thrown out of school. Fischl was interested in observing the women artists who were exploring female iconography and felt free to attempt all forms of images to tell their tales (Tuten). "The main revelation for me, though, was a very simple painting that Elizabeth Murray made. It was a circle in a square -- a very traditional Minimal format, having to do with a sort of perfect geometry. The thing was that Elizabeth's circle didn't fit the square; it punched out on the edges." He recalls looking at Murray's painting and thinking: "Minimalism is over. The circle no longer fits" (Tuten 78). Then, he captured the idea of what has become is mark: to create a story at the center of his work. He felt if he had a fictional family who was in the center of everything he did, he could use this family matrix as a means of creating imagery. One day he could paint boy's toys, and the next day he could say, "What's the mom doing now?" He could focus on her and present who she may be, and what her relationship was to her husband, her children (Tillim). He moved to Chicago, where he began teaching painting at the well-known Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Here he met his wife, artist April Gornik. The two now live in New York City.

As Fischl entered his second decade of painting, he moved out of the suburbs, but remained focused on these same individuals in different environments. The painting Cargo Cults, 1984, takes place on some exotic beach. In the foreground, there's a bag and crew from Love Boat, some in uniforms, one naked, yelling at two nude women walking along the shoreline. In the background, a religious shaman is trying to put a spell on them. Fischl explains that when resort life "winds down to a terrifying ennui," (db artmag) the tourists search for the drama in life that drives them crazy. This painting represents another aspect of Fischl's work: Combining two completely separate worlds -- such as the shaman and the tourists -- that cannot normally be joined regardless of their simultaneous existence.

This alienation, being separate yet apart from one's environment, comes through most of Fischl's works, regardless if they take place in Miami Beach or India. He captures scenes or little moments, allegories, where the characters are participating in some form of symbolic activity. When traveling to India, he found many traditions juxtaposed with the modern world. His paintings, as the camel suddenly jutting from the edge in By the River (1989), represent a country where the commonplace and the exotic mix uncertainly and visitors and the viewers of the painting never forget the distance between cultural insiders and outsiders. Regardless of India's beauty and exotic scenery, Fischl transforms this spectacular into something just a bit threadbare. Fischl explains that "The experience of the India paintings was one in which the audience feels alien, even though they're looking at an alien culture, they are the ones that feel alienated" (Tillim)

Fischl traveled to India and Europe and returned to the United States to once again focus on the beach set. In Beach Scenes (2006), he depicts small, big, naked, bulging, tanned, pasty, swimmers and sun worshipers in an environment where inhibitions are forgotten and they present who they are. The vacationers expose themselves -- young and old, formal sailing attire or skimpy bikinis, with sun hats and glasses -- and are vulnerable by being observed by others and those viewing the paintings. While others, in Beach Scene with Pink Hat (2006), the bathers slick with oil, tanned and firm bodies, strut across the beach, hoping that they will be seen. This, as with other pieces of Fischl's art work is an examination of the middle class.

"In a way," he has said, "it is the most interesting aspect of American life. It's the biggest, filled with ambition, the class of transition that tries so hard to uphold the value of the culture. It's tragic and compelling." Fischl's work exemplifies how humans see themselves and act as objects in a play. In their relationship to the space surrounding lies that area of alienation and isolation. The characters are together in the play, but they do not interact, communicate with one another. It is the middle-class monotony of life. The people in the paintings are naked; they are stripping themselves bare and revealing their outer selves, literally and figuratively. The people observing these scenes become participants in the pursuit of truth, which has no value outside their observation itself. Fischl does not give any answers, does not lecture, but rather just paints it as it is, and lets the viewer feel the alienation and isolation, as well.

In Scenes from Late Paradise, he makes the viewer of his paintings join the people on the beach. The huge, 78-by-86-inch oils feature his everyday summer scenes. Once again, his painting is concerned about people and their behavior. He focuses on what these middle-class and upper-class men and women do in their leisure time, trying to forget their daily rut and seeking a release during their vacation time. Each time the people on the beach are viewed, they are in a different pose, a different moment in time is captured. They are familiar, they can be recognized and understood. The viewer of the painting is caught between wanting to look closely at the scantily clad and nude bodies, yet look away so not being at risk of voyeurism. It is even more difficult not to stare when, in Beautiful Day, he zooms in on the action and catches the bathers as they strip off their suits to catch the sunrays. Fischl's ideas of painting have remained constant to the extent that he has always believed that painting should follow life and point to where life is leading. Once again Fischl has a narrative to relate, a story to tell, with just one small part of that story showing the whole reality of life.

How does Fischl see himself amidst all of these narratives of life? In… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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