“Reading Eric Fischl…”


Eric Fischl, Mary Boone Gallery, NY, NY

That’s what I am doing right now, reading his autobiography Bad Boy. I had been interested in Fischl’s painting for quite some time now, although I had seen very little of them. Many of his ‘psychosexual tableaux’ were just a ‘bit over the top’ for me, but others I found quite interesting. What finally got me interested in his work was reading his comments about his paintings and style of working. I found him to be an extremely intelligible and intelligent writer who squarely addressed what he is doing and why he is doing it, without the usual art-speak that accompanies such discourse. His book is the same way. I am finding it utterly fascinating, although it reveals more about the art world than I probably want to know.
Just now I have been wrestling as to how do approach some of my portrait/people work and when I ran across his explanation of how he approaches his figurative paintings, I was hooked: “..Painting is about trying to get to that instant that is pregnant with some special kind of energy. Done right, there’s an exquisite tension in the picture that comes from a precise set of relationship – between forms on an abstract level and between people on an image level. Finding where to arrest the action, where to stop time, is where the artistry lives. The most dramatic moments are the moments just before or just after something happens. The viewer entering the scene at those moments rushes to complete the narrative with his or her own association and feeling…” [Bad Boy, p. 101]
The painter Gini Lawson as neat take on Fischl’s work on her blog.

About christian harkness

Photographer and printmaker; living and working in north Florida.
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8 Responses to “Reading Eric Fischl…”

  1. Narrative painting always grabs my attention. Fantastic work from both Frischl and Lawson. I’m just not very keen on reading why painters do what they do.

    • Yes, I really did like Lawson’s work & I am glad you enjoyed it. I am finding it interesting because I am wrestling with doing narrative portraits, if that is not a contradiction in terms. Anyhow, dealing with art, one way or another, that grabs me is always enjoyable.

  2. drawandshoot says:

    Oh, I might look up that book, I do like his work!

  3. Saw your post and started reading the book over the weekend. Love learning about other artists, how they see and think. Thanks for the tip!

    • I am delighted Monica and I am sure you will enjoy it. I just passed my copy to a friend.

      I finally did a couple of small gold leaf prints with your gold leaf.I pretty much messed one up – somehow getting the print dimensions wrong, and then trying to come up with a good finishing spray to protect it. However, the other one is gorgeous. The luminosity emanating from the gold is something to behold. I was going to take a photo of it on the copy stand, but I don’t want to drag it around till I get a protective coat of sealer on it.
      Again, millions and millions of thanks – I will keep you updated.

      • So glad you had success with it! The brilliance of real gold is like nothing else. Hope you can find a good sealer; I brush mine on but that probably isn’t going to work in your case. It won’t tarnish without sealer; if you can get it behind glass it will be safe.

        • I finally got a mailing envelope, and got my ‘stuff together’ enough to put a print together for you!!! I will get it out in the mail tomorrow, and hopefully we can talk some more about the process!!!!

          With a million thanks!!!! – christian

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