The beauty of art really is in the eye of the beholder. Art is a diverse as the people who create it. Some of the most famous art comes from some of the least expected places and people but, their journey is what seems to make it incredible. From the suburbs of Long Island, New York to Haight-Ashbury, San Francisco during the Hippie movement in the 1960’s brought about one of the most influential, internationally acclaimed artists, Eric Fischl. This paper will go through his dysfunctional upbringing, his art education and teaching, his many accomplishments and how he became one of the most famous figurative artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Eric Fischl was born in 1948 in New York City. His own biography states “Fischl’s suburban upbringing provided him with a backdrop of alcoholism and a country club culture obsessed with image over content.”(Eric Fischl: Biography) In an interview with Fischl, when asked about his upbringing and he states “I grew up in an upper, middle class, American family in the suburbs of long island. My father was a salesman and went to the city every day. My mother was a housewife who had a severe drinking problem and so the family was in a dysfunctional state when I was growing up.”(Davis) Although he dropped out of high school and lived the hippie lifestyle for a while he eventually moved to Arizona and attended college in Phoenix. (Davis)
In 1972, Fischl went back to California to attend the California Institute for the Arts from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. Two years later he ended up in Halifax, Nova Scotia teaching painting at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. After just a year, in 1975, he had his first show at Dalhousie Art Gallery. Three years later, Fischl moved back to New York City. (Eric Fischl: Biography)
A change from the abstract art of the 1970s, Fischl first emerged as a Neo-expressionist as many of his early paintings excluded the traditional ideals of design and revealed modern, suburban life. They were usually large oil paintings on canvas or transparent glassine paper depicting the human body along with inanimate objects. Most of his work was loudly painted with controversial subject matter. Fischl noticeably used the contrast of light in many of his early paintings as well as dramatic brush strokes. (Fischl, Danto, Enright, Martin-2007 pg. 20, 21, 54) One of his early paintings that brought a great deal of attention was Bad Boy, 1981.
BAD BOY, 1981.Oil on Canvas. 66 x 96 inches. Eric Fischl studios, 2010
In this painting an older woman lies on a bed nude with her leg bent up, picking at her foot while what looks like an adolescent boy slips his hand into her purse. Exactly what is going on is not clear. Who is this boy, does he know this woman? Does the woman even know the boy is there? These questions are asked when looking at many of Fischl’s...