Monday, September 12, 2016

Eric Fischl and Photoshop

Eric Fischl (1948 - ) is for me an important post-modernist artist because he broke from abstraction and moved to realist paintings of people in psychologically ambiguous situations. Plus, his work was commercially successful while being generally accepted by the New York art world.

Fischl's Wikipedia entry is here, and here is his web site that contains many examples of his work.

Due to his need to portray people in those psychologically ambiguous situations I referred to, he needed capture-the-moment body poses and gestures difficult or impossible to obtain from live models. Beyond that was the need to get correct effects of light and shade on his subjects. So Fischl necessarily was drawn to the use of photography for reference material. This is what classical illustrators usually were doing by the 1940s.

Another consideration was composing scenes. Again he borrowed from illustration by creating overlays, one to a subject, and moving them around to establish the ensemble best fitted for artistic and story-telling purposes. Early in his career he made use of glassine to create finished works on that support material.

In recent years Fischl has been relying on digital photography, using Photoshop to manipulate the positions of subjects to achieve what he feels is a satisfactory compositions. He credits his wife, landscape artist April Gornik, for getting him using that software.

A 2012 exhibit at the San Jose (California) Museum of Art dealt with his use of photography. The museum's website page dealing with the exhibit is here.

Here are a few examples of Fischl's use of photography for his painting.


This is an example of a Photoshopped image.  I don't have an image of a completed painting for comparison.

Years before using Photoshop, Fischl began using conventional photography.  This is a key photo taken at a beach near Saint-Tropez, France about 1984.  The pose of women in the center was later used by him in several works.

Above are a digital image and a completed painting from his 2002 Krefeld Project. This seems to be pre-Photoshop.

Phototshoped composition and final painting, "The Gang," 2006. The woman in the foreground is April Gornik.

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