Janet Fish: Pinwheels and Poppies, Paintings 1980 - 2008

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janet fish



janet fish Pinwheels & Poppies Pa i n t i n g s 19 8 0 – 2 0 0 8

D C M O O R E G A L L E R Y




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The artist in her studio, 2016 .


JANET FISH: PINWHEELS AND POPPIES, PAINTINGS 1980–2008

is a long-overdue major survey of the artist’s work spanning nearly three decades. Its title refers to the joie de vivre with which Fish revitalized the genre of still life painting in the years following her introduction to the New York art world in the late 1960s. This broad collection of works is a tribute to the artist’s achievements that underscores her continuing stylistic and thematic evolution. Committed to both an expressive use of brushstrokes and verisimilitude, Fish’s paintings are filled with spirit, intensity, and irreverent wit. Her work exists in a state of flux—hovering between fluid technique and measured stillness—where each object is animated by color and light. In Fish’s words, “I see light as energy, and energy is always moving through us. I don’t see things as being separated — I don’t paint the objects, I paint one after the other. I paint through the painting.” As light reflects, refracts, transforms, and engages with each surface she paints, Fish gives form to energy. These singular moments are constantly fluctuating, and change is always implied. In each viewing something new can be discovered: “I would like it to be more of a novel than a short story, so you could go back in and see something different another time,” she muses.

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Tulip, Apple and Glass, 1980 . Oil on canvas, 38 x 38 inches


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‘‘From doing the glass, I got more and more interested in the kind of complexity that happened within the glasses. Then when I wanted to leave that, I started looking for ways to have that complexity and flow of movement occur without being tied to a particular type of object/subject matter thing.’’

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Black Vase and Daffodils, 1980 . Oil on canvas, 66 x 50 inches


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Salad Fixings, 1983 . Oil on linen, 38 x 56 inches


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‘‘It’s really as much painting life as anything else, so that still life always seemed to be the wrong words, the word ‘still’ and ‘nature morte’ has always been the wrong phrase, too, because it’s not dead, Things aren’t dead. The light would be through everything and energy through everything.’’

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Football, 1986 . Oil on canvas, 70 x 50 inches


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Chinese Puppets, 1988 . Oil on linen, 50 x 50 inches


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Daffodils and Spring Trees, 1988 . Oil on linen, 60 x 48 inches


Yellow Leaves, 1998 . Oil on canvas, 60 x 52 inches

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Carl Hunting, 1990 . Oil on canvas, 70 x 100 1â „4 inches

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Provence, 1995 . Oil on linen, 50 x 50 inches.


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‘‘Sometimes I’ve thought of the subject matter as the grid that held the painting together. It was like a grid out of which the painting was made, but it wasn’t what the painting really was. It was the thing that held it. It gave it a sort of mesh that held the whole thing in, but everything else was trying to get out… I know I am trying to reach out beyond what’s totally understood…I don’t want to totally understand the painting in advance. I want to find out what I’m working on.’’

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Pinwheels and Poppies, 1990 . Oil on canvas, 64 x 70 inches


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Bob's Brocade, 2000 . Oil on linen, 40 x 50 inches


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Lattice Vase, 2001 . Oil on linen, 42 x 60 inches


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‘‘When I paint I become part of something else. My eyes touch the object. I look at it, trying to understand it; I put it down [ on the canvas ].’’

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Wreath, 2002 . Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches


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Lamp and Book, 2004 . Oil on canvas, 42 x 70 inches

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Yellow Glass Bowl with Tangerines, 2007 . Oil on canvas, 36 x 50 inches


Strawberries, Geese, 2006 . Oil on canvas, 36 x 56 inches

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Dragon Kite, 2007 . Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches


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‘‘Paint quality means, to me, that the paintings look to be made by hand, there’s a physicality to the paint...I think that paint is a sensual medium. I am working with color and movement and texture and what I see. And it’s important to me that the mark has a character to it.’’

Apple Blossoms/Spring Trees, 2008 . Oil on canvas, 60 x 60 inches

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Daffodils/Dark Trees, 2008 . Oil on canvas, 36 x 60 inches

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OVER THE LAST FIFTY YEARS, Janet Fish has drawn on her embrace

of change and her belief in the underlying interconnectedness of things to fuel her remarkable painting practice. She philosophizes that to stop changing is to die, a conviction that drives her unending formal experimentation and her mastery of multiple genres. Change inhabits each painting as well. The objects that serve as armatures for color and light in her work are exuberant in their state of flux. The long conceptual, formal, and iconographic history of the still life genre confirms our own experience. Though the artist works against the idea of capturing a photographic instant, she preserves a mood, a quality of light, and a sense of place to which we can continually return. In 1963 Janet Fish received her MFA from Yale, where her fellow students included Chuck Close, Rackstraw Downes, Nancy Graves, Robert Mangold, Sylvia Plimack Mangold, and Richard Serra, a tight-knit group who formed an intense, ambitious, competitive cohort that motivated one another to develop and defend their work. She recalls, ‘‘All my teachers stopped talking to me. I guess there was nothing worse than a girl painting still life in the age of Abstract Expressionism!’’ After graduation Fish moved to New York City. Her paintings from the late 60s and early 70s, studies of transparent objects, begin a life-long preoccupation with the nature and substance of light. From the beginning, Fish focused on commonplace objects, insisting that her subject matter, glasses, fruits covered in supermarket cellophane, or liquid filled containers, was unimportant. For Fish the subject matter or story line, is of the least importance, for her meaning is determined by tone, gesture, color, light, and scale. A monograph on Fish’s work, Janet Fish: Paintings, by Vincent Katz, was published by Harry N. Abrams in 2002 and a catalogue raisonné of Fish’s prints, titled The Prints of Janet Fish by Linda Konheim Kramer, was published by John Szoke Graphics in 1997.

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Pumpkin, 2008 . Oil on canvas, 48 x 60 inches

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selected public collections The Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, Saint Joseph, MO

Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, MI

Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY

Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science, IN

Allen Memorial Art Museum, Oberlin College, OH

Farnsworth Art Museum, Rockland, ME

Amarillo Museum of Art, TX

Flint Institute of Arts, MI

American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York, NY

Foosaner Art Museum, Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne, FL

Art Institute of Chicago, IL

Fort Wayne Museum of Art, IN

Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi, TX

Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL

Asheville Art Museum, NC Heckscher Museum of Art, Huntington, NY Brooklyn Museum, NY Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, TN The Butler Institute of American Art, Youngstown, OH

Huntsville Museum of Art, AL

Canton Museum of Art, OH

Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Center for Visual Arts at Stanford University, CA

Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

Castellani Art Museum, Niagara University, Niagara Falls, NY

Jundt Art Museum, Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA

Cleveland Museum of Art, OH

Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, MI

Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, ME

Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO

Columbia Museum of Art, SC Knoxville Museum of Art, TN Columbus Museum, GA Dallas Museum of Art, TX

Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI

Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley College, MA

Charles H. MacNider Art Museum, Mason City, IA Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, WI

Dayton Art Institute, OH

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The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY

Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, OK

Millersville University, PA

Power Institute, The University of Sydney, Australia

Milwaukee Art Museum, WI Randolph College, Lynchburg, VA Minneapolis Institute of Arts, MN Minnesota Museum of American Art, St. Paul, MN Moore Free Library, Newfane, VT Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA

Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI The Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, MA Smith College Museum of Art, Northampton, MA

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX

Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC

The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY

Tucson Museum of Art, AZ

National Academy Museum, New York, NY

United States Department of State, Washington, DC

National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia

University of Arizona Museum of Art, Tucson, AZ

National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia

University of Kentucky Art Museum, Lexington, KY

Newark Museum, NJ

University of Michigan-Dearborn Art Museum Project, MI

New Jersey State Museum, Trenton, NJ Vero Beach Museum of Art, FL New Orleans Museum of Art, LA Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA Ellen NoĂŤl Art Museum, Odessa, TX North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC

Westmoreland Museum of American Art, Greensburg, PA

Oklahoma City Museum of Art, OK

Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY

Orlando Museum of Art, FL

Wichita Art Museum, KS

Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia, PA

Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT

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D C M O O R E G A L L E R Y 535 West 22nd Street New York New York 10011 212.247.2111 www.dcmooregallery.com

Published on the occasion of the exhibition

JANET FISH , Pinwheels & Poppies Paintings 1980–2008 DC MOORE Gallery, September 7– 30, 2017

Copyright © DC Moore Gallery, 2017 Editing: SNAP Editions; Design: Joseph Guglietti

Dragon Kite, 2007 ( detail ) . Oil on canvas, 40 x 50 inches


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