|A major solo show by Eric Fischl opens on Saturday at Guild Hall Museum. “Beach Life” presents 15 paintings depicting life unfolding on the beaches of the Hamptons, St. Tropez and St. Barts. The show includes works loaned from the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art and private collectors. Two paintings have never been exhibited before. All of the works are figurative.“Forget about bathing beauties,” writes the novelist A.M. Holmes in the forward of the bookBeach Paintings published by Rizzoli. “The beachgoers in Eric Fischl’s paintings are real people caught with their guard down–often their bathing suits too–as they wade and wallow at surf’s edge or lounge on the sand, sunlight slathering their naked thighs and shoulders.”|
|The works in “Beach Life” were painted from 1983 to 2010. Works range in size from 3 x 4 feet to panels that stretch to over 13 feet. The people populating his painting are sometimes friends and family.For instance, Fischl’s wife–the painter April Gornik–stands prominently in a polka dot bathing suit in ”The Gang.” Artists Bryan Hunt, David Salle and Ralph Gibson are included in the painting inspired by group photographs made by Hans Namuth of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and other artists gathered on a sand dune, according to Phyllis Tuchman, who wrote the essay for the exhibition.|
|Beach scenes have been Fischl’s muse for over three decades, writes Tuchman in her essay Beach Baby Blue.“Some of Fischl’s earliest beach scenes are extensions of the narrative panels that secured his reputation in the early nineteen eighties,” she writes. “Others have only a figure or two, their poses based on photographs the artist took on the French Rivieradecades ago. A few are outright portraits. Many are virtuoso displays of light and shadow with slashing brushstrokes that animate the surf as well as hair blowing in the breeze.”While the setting is casual and the figures relaxed, the paintings are steeped with psychological undertones and narrative intrigue.
Tuchman sums it up this way:
“In the beach paintings on view at Guild Hall, Fischl has conveyed how men and women enjoying sand and surf, in his words, ‘drop their guard.’ He has imbued his figures with the ‘hedonistic, the erotic, the playful’ in a way that has allowed the artist to address ‘a metaphor of desire and fantasy.”
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