Louise Fishman
Louise Fishman - Artists - Cheim Read

Louise Fishman short bio

Louise Fishman’s work celebrates process. In monumental, energetic surfaces of densely
layered color and texture, her paintings exemplify a driven exploration of materials and
mark-making. Using scrapers and trowels, along with more traditional paintbrushes, Fishman
constructs loosely-gridded compositions by adding, scraping away and re-applying paint,
sometimes working and reworking canvases over a long period of time. Remarkable not
only for their technical mastery, her abstractions are also emotionally evocative. Physically
stunning, her work is continually re-charged by her viewers’ reactions.


While Fishman’s paintings do not openly narrate the events of her life, they are certainly
rooted in her cultural, political and emotional experiences. Born in Philadelphia in 1939,
Fishman was active in the feminist movement of the late 1960s and early 70s. During this
time, she temporarily abandoned painting for sculptural and material investigations that
pursued a more distinctly feminine art. Fishman’s return to painting was anticipated by her
seminal 1973 “Angry Women” series, which represented important figures in the feminist
movement. Her subsequent embrace of gestural abstraction unapologetically confronted
the male-dominated history of artistic discourse. At a time when postmodernism claimed
painting to be “dead,” Fishman’s decisive re-appropriation of Abstract Expressionism
repositioned it for a different era and gender. Continuing her support for the feminist
cause, Fishman is also an advocate for gay and lesbian rights. Though she may reference
specific personal experiences in her work, the feelings she conveys can be collectively


Fishman lives and works in New York City. Widely shown, her work is represented in many
collections, including: the Metropolitan Museum of 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 Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire (2007) and John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, Florida (2009). In 2016, the Neuberger Museum of Art organized the artist’s first retrospective, curated by Helaine Posner. In Fishman’s hometown of Philadelphia, the Institute of Contemporary Art held a concurrent exhibition of her small-scale work, Paper Louise Tiny Fishman Rock, curated by Ingrid Schaffner. The retrospective will travel to the Weatherspoon Art Museum, University of North Carolina at Greensboro this fall, September 20 – December 22, 2017. The monograph, Louise Fishman, published by DelMonico Books/Prestel accompanied the exhibitions.

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