Louise Fishman Finally Gets a Retrospective!

PURCHASE, NY.- At age 77, Louise Fishman, one of America’s most important women artists, will enjoy her first career retrospective, organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York. It has been a long time in coming.

Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network are avid collectors of her work.

Ms. Fishman, whose work embraces the Abstract Expressionist tradition but reinvents it, has long fought for the meaningful recognition that Neuberger Museum of Art Chief Curator, Helaine Posner, believes has eluded many women artists because of sexism and other cultural biases.

Ms. Posner curated several exhibitions in recent years featuring the work of contemporary women artists that have received significant critical acclaim. She believes this exhibition reflects Fishman’s finest hour: “She’s at the top of her game.”

In the 224-page, fully illustrated catalogue that accompanies the exhibition Louise Fishman: A Retrospective, Neuberger Director Tracy Fitzpatrick notes that the “Neuberger Museum of Art collaborates with artists whose work is not only of the highest art historical significance and aesthetic quality but also demonstrates critical perspectives that have influenced their peers and had a lasting impact on younger generations. Louise Fishman is such an artist.”

Concurrently, an exhibition of Fishman’s sketchbooks, sculpture, and miniature paintings works will be shown at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, in Paper Louise Tiny Fishman Rock from May 4 – August 14, 2016.

Career Evolution

This exhibition traces the course and development of Fishman’s career, featuring early hard-edged grid paintings of the late 1960s, feminist-inspired woven-and-stitched works and the explosive “Angry Paintings” of the 1970s, “Remembrance and Renewal” works made in response to a transformative visit to Auschwitz and Terezin in1988, culminating in the calligraphic and gestural abstractions for which she is widely known.

Paintings inspired by the artist’s residency at the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice in 2011 and by the work of British artist J.M.W. Turner complete the exhibition.

Throughout it all, Fishman experimented with style and medium, and she varied her approach. Yet, she ultimately remained true to abstraction, employing a thicket of brush strokes that are dynamic, bold, energetic, passionate, and intensely physical, often infused by a spirit of resistance and discontent. “My paintings are very athletic, very musical; they’re architectural,” the artist recently explained to a visitor to her studio. “Feminism taught me I could do anything.”

Energetic Surfaces

Fishman’s paintings contain energetic surfaces of layered color and texture, created by applying, then scraping away, then re-applying paint with scrapers, trowels and brushes of varying sizes and coarseness onto tightly woven linen.

The color palette can be narrow or expansive, and brush strokes often travel in many directions, giving her canvases considerable life and depth. The results are, as Posner describes it, “the large-scale, gestural abstractions that share the physicality, dyna¬mism, and emotional force of [the Abstract Expressionist] movement while remaining visually poetic and intimate in tone.”

In her catalogue essay, Carrie Moyer characterizes Fishman’s approach this way: “By following the current of her own work (and without anyone’s permission), Fishman has developed a muscular painterly abstraction that compels us to see the gesture as highly individual, rather than as a proxy for ‘feeling.’” In her paintings, the emotions conveyed by the formal idiom of Abstract Expressionism become straightforward, stripped of both the movement’s original existential burden and the overworked interpretations that followed.”

Fishman was active in the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 70s, and raged against a male-dominated art world. She also became a passionate advocate for gay and lesbian rights.

Widely Shown

Fishman’s work is represented in many collections, including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, Georgia; and the Jewish Museum, New York, among others. Awards include three National Endowment for the Arts grants, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, among others.

She has also participated in several artists’ residencies, most recently at the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice, Italy. Fishman has had recent solo exhibitions at Galerie Kienzle & Gmeiner, Berlin (2008); The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida (2009); Gallery Paule Anglim, San Francisco (2010), Jack Tilton Gallery, New York (2012), and Cheim & Read, New York (2012).

Louise Fishman: A Retrospective is organized by the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, SUNY.

Photo above : Ashkenazi, 1978. Oil on linen, 32 x 48 inches, 81.2 x 122 centimeters. Courtesy of the artist and Cheim & Read, New York.