An exhibition at the Krannert Art Museum examines the works on paper of Louise Fishman


Quoting John Cage’s 1965 response to the question “What is drawing?” “, A matter of emphasis: drawing by Louise Fishman is the first exhibition and publication of works on paper by Louise Fishman (1939-2021) covering a career. Presented until February 2022 at the Krannert Art Museum (KAM) of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the exhibition presents collage, oil and wax, thread, charcoal, engraving, watercolor and tempera in Japanese binding. leporello (accordion) books. This range of mediums brings to the fore the artist’s robust and dedicated practice of works on paper, which were never intended for large canvases. Instead, she used drawing to reflect on physicality, materials, and intimacy on an often sculptural and tactile register, and aligned with her communities.

A matter of emphasis examines the relationship between an artist’s biography and drawing through feminist and queer perspectives. Fishman’s designs stand out because many are dedicated to lovers – an illustrious network of lesbian writers, academics and critics that includes Bertha Harris, Esther Newton, Jill Johnston, and Ingrid Nyeboe, Fishman’s wife. Fishman’s works on paper also honor his artist teachers: Paul Cézanne, Piet Mondrian, Franz Kline, John Cage, Eva Hesse and Agnes Martin. Some works are collaborative, notably prints made by Fishman from his mother’s collagraphic plates, and the Angry women series of acrylic texts made for friends and muses during her involvement in feminist awareness in the 1970s.

This project follows Fishman’s example, through drawing, to bring together a community of living, historical characters who are integral to building oneself. Although centered on the artist’s hand, Fishman’s works on paper are in fact radically open and offer the public a strong perspective of art as a world-creating project.

Visit for more information on the exhibition and for more information on the catalog.

A matter of emphasis: drawing by Louise Fishman is organized by Amy L. Powell, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at KAM and supported by the American Art Program of the Henry Luce Foundation; the Rosann Gelvin Noel Fund; the College of Fine and Applied Arts, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign; Vielmetter Los Angeles; Sueyun Locks, the Locks Foundation; Karma, New York; and the Sandra L. Batzli Memorial Fund.

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