new-york

Eric Fischl

Whitney Museum of American Art

The photosleaze painterliness of Eric Fischl’s canvases, full of grandiose passages and minutiae in precarious equilibrium, seemed impermeable under the glare of the museum lights. The scenes revealed themselves as less vulgarly Freudian—less full of suburban psychology—and more art-historically resonant, and thus in a more deconstructive mode than originally perceived. Fischl’s paintings of affluent society’s suffering are not simply topped off with gratuitous allusions to American realism but theoretically toy with the conventions of realism: physiognomic reading of physiological detail, and a consistent iconographic order that provides a conceptual underpinning to the perceptual tour de force.

One can linger with Fischl’s themes and symbolism, which really have less to do with sexuality than with that old Edward Hopper standby, American inexpressive loneliness (but with the George Segal

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