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Louise Fishman

Louise Fishman (b. 1939, Philadelphia, PA; d. 2021, New York, NY) was a pioneering American artist most known for her tireless exploration of abstraction. Studying at Philadelphia College of Art in the 1960s, Fishman moved to New York shortly thereafter to immerse herself in the active art scene of the time. Drawing inspiration from her studies of art history, feminist philosophy, and personal experiences,  Fishman's work bridged the gap between Abstract Expressionism and a deeply intuitive painting style marked by her unique perspective. Her work was often seen as a response to the male-dominated art world as she explored themes of identity, gender, and cultural heritage. Her subtractive method of mark-making celebrated process and rejected the masculinist impulses of Abex as she used scrapers, trowels, and traditional brushes to apply and remove dense layers of paint in loose, gestural scores. 

 

"If good painting is what you want to do, then good painting is what you must look at,” Fishman wrote in 1977, “Take what you want and leave the dreck.” Gilles Heno-Coe elaborates on this sentiment: “For Fishman, this meant taking the relevant bits from Paul Cézanne or Willem de Kooning, as much as from Agnes Martin or Eva Hesse. The pursuit of individual freedom and personal expression was and remains her primary motivation as an artist.” 

Fishman recently held solo exhibitions at Karma, New York (2022, 2020); Krannert Art Museum, Illinois (2021–22); Vielmetter, Los Angeles (2021, 2019); Locks Gallery, Philadelphia (2019); Cheim & Read, New York (2017); and Goya Contemporary, Baltimore (2013). In 2016, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, New York, both hosted Fishman retrospective exhibitions. Her work is represented in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Jewish Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, among others. 

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