(please forgive the title)
I had the interesting experience of seeing Eric Fischl lecture at KCAI last week, followed the next morning by a critique, of sorts.
Having been a long-time admirer of Fischl’s paintings, namely the wonderful oil on glassine pieces that are pinned on top of one another in various configurations, I was sadly let down when he made a long-winded backstroke through his past as a painter.
I suppose I can forgive him for catering to the unusually perfumed, hyper-dressed crowd who came to fawn after him in our lecture hall that night.
Joking that his own Richter (painted into the back wall of one of his oils, next to a Warhol and a Nauman) was better than Gerhard’s Richter, the crowd seemed to say in all their excitement, “Oh Eric…you’re SO silly!”
The dangly earringed woman next to me actually lifted her ass a few inches from the seat clapping wildly and hysterically exclaimed “It IS better! It IS!!”
I threw up a little bit in my mouth.
However, Fischl did have some interesting things to say regarding the figure and how the body is dealt with in contemporary art. He talked about the extraction of his 9-11 response sculpture Tumbling Woman in which he says the woman was meant to be seen as a kind of tumbleweed, almost floating. Unfortunately some saw it (a writer at the New York Post) as a moment of bloody impact.
As far as the critique went, I won’t mention too much detail. After a tedious hour-long speech about how we need to make our work stand out in a crowd of other work, one of our teachers had to subtly direct Fischl into actually talking about the work around us. He did so reluctantly after a few more, less subtle hints. Thankfully, he was not kind or buttery with his responses. He did however, seem to lack an essential insight. Those that did get a crit that morning (due to his speech, there wasn’t time for everyone) seemed to get picked apart, for better or for worse.
I realize Eric has been at it for a while now and I pretty much respect his opinion as a painter. Perhaps though, my expectations were a little too high to begin with.