Search the Collections

Eric Fischl
Birth Date: 
Birth Place: 
New York City
An American figurative artist, Eric Fischl explores themes of life in Suburbia in his intimate and often sexually-charged paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints. Born in New York City in 1948, he grew up in suburban Long Island. His family moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1967, where he attended Phoenix Junior College and Arizona State University. In 1970 he entered the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, a suburb of Los Angeles, and graduated in 1972 with a bachelor of fine arts degree. From 1974 until 1978 Fischl taught painting at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax, where he met his future wife, the painter April Gornik (b. 1953). His first solo exhibition was at the Dalhousie University Art Gallery, Halifax, in 1975. By 1977 Fischl’s work had evolved from abstraction to figurative works focusing on a suburban family. He moved to New York City in 1978 and soon began exhibiting in solo and group exhibitions, including solo shows at the Edward Thorp Gallery in 1979 and 1980 and in group exhibitions at the P.S.1 Gallery in Long Island City in 1979 and 1982 and New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art’s exhibition, “Focus on the Figure; Twenty Years,” in 1982. Fischl’s 1979 painting Sleepwalker, a sexually-explicit image of a boy, caused great controversy. His works appeared in a number of exhibitions during the 1980s, including the Whitney’s Biennial Exhibitions in 1983 and 1985 and other Whitney exhibitions in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1989, the 1984 Venice Biennale and the 1984 “International Survey of Recent Painting and Sculpture” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Fischl continued to exhibit in solo and group shows in the United States, Canada and Europe during the succeeding decades. The World Trade Center attacks of September 11, 2001 inspired Fischl to create a series of watercolors depicting falling bodies, and his 2002 sculpture Tumbling Woman was so controversial that it was withdrawn from its Rockefeller Center exhibition. He is a Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, having been å resident artist there during 1995-96. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Science and serves as a senior critic at the New York Academy of Art. In recent years he has lived and worked in Sag Harbor, N.Y. (TNB 8/2014) Selected bibliography: Danto, Arthur C., Robert Enright and Steve Martin. Eric Fischl, 1970-2007. New York: Monacelli Press, 2008. Schjeldahl, Peter. Eric Fischl: Paintings and Drawings 1979–2001. Exhibition catalog. Ostfildern-Ruit: Hathe Cantz Verlag, 2004.