Friday, September 2, 2016

Searching for Light in the Darkness of the ’80s

By Ken Johnson
Eric Fischl’s “A Visit To/A Visit From/The Island” (1983) at the Parrish Art Museum in Southampton is politically overt, a rarity for the artist. Credit Lindsay Morris for The New York Times
NEW YORK---For contemporary art in America, the 1980s was an exciting if not lovable decade. Arguably it was second only to the 1960s for ambitious innovations of style and thought. In contrast to the future-oriented euphoria of the ’60s, however, the mood of art in the ’80s was retrospective and darkly rueful. Animated by a kind of Victorian religiosity, Mr. Bleckner’s cannily postmodernist yet unabashedly sentimental art would seem to be equally far from Mr. Fischl’s earthy tragicomedy tragic-comedy and Mr. Salle’s bitter semiotic gamesmanship. What the three artists shared was a desperate urge to find meaning in and through painting, during a decade in which it seemed more was ending than beginning. [link]

Parrish Art Museum: “Unfinished Business: Paintings From the 1970s and 1980s by Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl and David Salle” runs through Oct. 16, 2016; 279 Montauk Highway, Water Mill, N.Y.; 631-283-2118,
Installation view of Unfinished Business: Paintings from the 1970s and 1980s by Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle. (From left to right) Ross Bleckner, Flora and the Future, 1983, Collection the artist. David Salle, Untitled, 1980, Collection of Ara Arslanian. Eric Fischl, Master Bedroom (Her Master's Voice), 1980, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, The Barry Lowen Collection, 85.50. Photo: Gary Mamay