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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – A retrospective at the Krannert Art Museum of works on paper by the late abstract artist Louise Fishman will serve as an unexpected memorial to former student Urbana-Champaign at the University of Illinois. “A Question of Emphasis: Louise Fishman Drawing” opened on August 26, exactly one month after the artist’s death. This is the first retrospective of Fishman’s works on paper, spanning more than 50 years, and showcasing many works of art that have never been shown.

“The exhibition serves as a very fitting memorial, although it was not created with that intention. It brings together ideas that Louise Fishman has worked with throughout her career – in particular, the complex and important networks of friends, family and ideas that she has so deeply cultivated, ”said Jon Seydl, Director from the Krannert Art Museum.

Amy L. Powell, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Krannert Art Museum, worked closely with Louise Fishman and her wife, Ingrid Nyeboe, to organize the exhibition. Fishman’s large-scale painting “Blonde Ambition” can be seen in the background.

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

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Fishman received a master’s degree in painting and printmaking from U. of I. in 1965. She is known for her large-scale paintings which demonstrate a strong physicality in the manipulation of paint and brushstrokes, and for the feminist and queer perspectives reflected in her. job. The School of Art and Design awarded him a Distinguished Alumni Award in 2019.

“She was a very successful abstract expressionist at a time when there were many changes in artistic tendencies. She had the courage to be herself in terms of commitment to her work, ”said Alan Mette, director of the School of Art and Design.

Mette said he was especially interested in young women seeing successful female artists, and Fishman was generous with her time to tour the studios and speak with the students.

Amy L. Powell, modern and contemporary art curator at KAM, worked closely with Fishman and his wife, Ingrid Nyeboe, to organize the retrospective.

“Louise was an incredible student in the history of painting, and not just in modern abstraction. She admired a wide range of artists, including Chaim Soutine, Duccio, Titien and Agnès Martin. The commitment and discipline in his work is so clear; he brings this real presence of his technique, of his attention. She is very present in the work that way, ”said Powell.

Image of an abstract painting by Louise Fishman

Louise Fishman, “Untitled”, 2001. Acrylic and charcoal on paper. 30 1/8 x 22 1/4 inches.

Courtesy of the artist. © Louise Fishman

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The exhibition includes over 100 paintings and drawings, most of them from the Fishman Archives. Also included are loans from the Jewish Museum of New York, the JPMorgan Chase Art Collection, and private collectors. They cover a range of mediums including collage, oil and wax, thread, acrylic text, ink, charcoal, printmaking, oil stick, watercolor, and oil painting. tempera.

Image of an abstract work by Louise Fishman in the shape of a circle and colored in blues, greens and yellows.

Louise Fishman, “Pencil over 2 Colors”, by Leftover Colors, 1974. Acrylic on paper. 18 3/4 x 20 inches.

Courtesy of the artist. © Louise Fishman

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Fishman’s works on paper experiment with the various artistic processes she also used in her large-scale paintings, including grids, transfers, and dedications. The works refer to Fishman’s Jewish, lesbian and feminist identities, and they reflect his social conscience and his study of Buddhism. Many are dedicated to the women of her community of lesbian artists, writers, academics, friends, lovers and her spouse.

Fishman was well known as a painter, but not for her drawings, Seydl said.

“His designs are truly an eye opener,” he said. “For many artists, drawings are preparatory to painting, but these are more personal, private and complex in a different way. Many aspects of her are manifested through her designs, and they are also amazing works of art.

Image of an abstract collage by Louise Fishman which is a detail of

Louise Fishman, detail from “Book of Abuse”, 1993-94. Acrylic, oil, oil stick, graphite, staples and wire with aluminum and paper collage on paper; Japanese Leporello binding. 6 3/8 x 3 5/8 x 1 5/8 inches.

Courtesy of the artist. © Louise Fishman

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The retrospective helps identify Fishman’s place in art history, as well as examine how his work defies attempts to label him, Powell said.

“I hope that the exhibition will be aimed at people who already love abstract art, but also anyone interested in how a woman takes on a whole story and a field of activity, and not only the change. , but shows us the stories we told about this activity – the feeling that men dominated abstract expressionism – was never true, ”she said.

The exhibition is organized according to the artistic methods used by Fishman.

Abstract artwork image

Louise Fishman, “My Pigeon”, 1976. Oil and wax on paper. 30 1/2 x 22 1/2 inches.

Courtesy of the artist. © Louise Fishman

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“Transfers” includes works that show evidence of contact. For example, Fishman would sometimes place tissue paper or duct tape over wet paint. During a visit to New Mexico in 1991, Fishman used rock shards and black ceramic stones to rub when she struggled to paint following a fire that destroyed her new studio -Yorkis.

Fishman has produced a series of leporello books, which are bound in such a way that the paper unwinds like an accordion. Fishman hand-mixed egg tempera paint for the vivid colors she used in books, and she occasionally let the painted pages of books dry against each other.

Image of five paintings by Louise Fishman

The retrospective includes several paintings from Fishman’s “Angry Women” series.

“A Question of Emphasis: Louise Fishman Drawing”, installation at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2021.

Courtesy of the Krannert Art Museum

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His series “Angry Women” consists of 30 paintings which associate the word “angry” with a first name, often that of a person known to the artist. The first of them, “Angry Louise”, expresses deep frustration and rage at the oppression of women by society. Five of Fishman’s “Angry Women” paintings are featured in the exhibit.

Fishman was fascinated by the use of a grid in her work to emphasize certain areas of a painting or drawing. The “Grids” section of the exhibition includes “Bel Canto”, one of three large-scale paintings included in the retrospective that uses the grid as a structure, but with a dynamic application of paint that makes it anything but rigid, has Powell said.

“Curves” features another large-scale painting – “Blonde Ambition”, which KAM acquired in 2019. With its minimalist structure and brilliant white paint gestures against a dark background, the work refers to both Marilyn Monroe and Madonna.

Image of abstract works by Louise Fishman created with canvases sewn together and with materials such as vellum and wax.

For a time in the early 1970s, Fishman refused to use materials associated with male painters. She cut canvases and sewn them together and used non-traditional materials such as vellum or duct tape.

Louise Fishman, “Untitled”, 1971. “A Question of Emphasis: Louise Fishman Drawing”, installation at the Krannert Art Museum, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, 2021.

Courtesy of the Krannert Art Museum

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“Flat Folds” features a series of oil and wax drawings from folded paper works that Fishman had made earlier and a lithograph made by Fishman as a graduate student at U. of I. A 1977 interview with videographers Kate Horsfield and Lyn Blomenthal, in which Fishman discusses his practice, brings the artist’s voice into the gallery.

“Expressions” examines emotion and expressiveness in Fishman’s work. It includes paintings she made after watching the Twin Towers fall on September 11 from her Manhattan studio. Fishman began painting by putting paper on his studio floor, rather than his usual way of working on the wall, to deal with the trauma of the event. This section also includes paintings with calligraphic elements, reflecting Fishman’s study of Hebrew and Chinese writing, and a leporello book dedicated to the artist’s wife.

Powell will lead a guided tour of the exhibit on September 24 at 2 p.m. KAM will host a public reception on September 24 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. “A Matter of Emphasis” will run until February 26.


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