This week’s Modern Art Notes Podcast features Eric Fischl. His new memoir “Bad Boy,” co-written with Michael Stone, has just been published by Crown. In the book, Fischl talks about growing up on Long Island, his mother’s alcoholism and suicide, his discovery of art, his meteoric rise in the New York art world during the cocaine-fueled 1980s, how he was motivated to become sober and how his travels and life experiences have fueled his work in the decades since. It’s a strikingly good read. Art students and young artists, no matter whether they’re painters or ardent conceptualists, will find it particularly interesting: Fischl talks about the process of figuring out how to become — and remain — an artist with candor and insight.
Fischl was one of the most prominent American painters to emerge in New York in the 1980s. He was featured in a solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1986, just four years after his first solo gallery show. Since then he’s been the subject of exhibitions at the Walker Art Center, the Milwaukee Art Museum, the Musee Cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne, at the Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, the Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld and more. His sculpture of Arthur Ashe (2000) at the Billie Jean King U.S. National Tennis Center is one of the most popular public artworks in New York. Images of much of Fischl’s work is available on his website.
Among the topics we discuss are:
- The rules Fischl wrote for himself when it came to meeting the demands of the then-newly booming art market;
- How his mother’s alcoholism and eventual suicide helped fuel his art;
- Why “emotional content,” a phrase Fischl uses repeatedly in the book, is important to his art; and
- Painters about whom Fischl thinks a great deal, including Ribera and Richard Diebenkorn.
On the second segment, Kate Shepherd talks about her work, particularly her interest in the primary colors. Her work is included in the group show “The Artist’s Palette: The Primary Colors on Paper” at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston. It’s on view through June 2. Shepherd’s work has been the subject of exhibitions at the Chinati Foundation and at The Phillips Collection. Her work is in the collection of museums such as the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, the Indianapolis Museum of Art, the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Seattle Art Museum. Many images of Shepherd’s work are available at her website.
The Modern Art Notes Podcast is an independent production of Modern Art Notes Media. The program is edited by Wilson Butterworth. The MAN Podcast is released under this Creative Commons license.
For links images of artworks discussed on this week’s show, please click through to the jump.
Eric Fischl, Bathers, 1982. Oil on glassine.
Eric Fischl, Master Bedroom (Her Master’s Voice), 1983. Collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles.
Eric Fischl, The Bed, The Chair, The Sitter, 1999.
Eric Fischl, The Bed, The Chair, Jet Lag, 2000.
Eric Fischl, Krefeld Project: Sunroom, Scene 1, 2002.
Eric Fischl, Scenes of Late Paradise: Beached, 2007.
Eric Fischl, Untitled, 2010.
Kate Shepherd, 200mm, 2012.
Kate Shepherd, Central Park 42, 2010.