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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A retrospective at Krannert Art Museum works on paper by the late abstract artist Louise Fishman will serve as an unexpected memorial to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign alumnus. “A matter of emphasis: drawing by Louise Fishmanopened its doors on August 26, exactly one month after the artist’s death. This is the first retrospective of Fishman’s works on paper, spanning over 50 years, and features many works of art that have never been shown.

“The exhibition is a very appropriate 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 cultivated so deeply,” said Jon Seydl, director of 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” is visible in the background.

Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

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Fishman received a master’s degree in painting and printmaking from the U. of I. in 1965. She is known for her large-scale paintings that demonstrate strong physics in the manipulation of paint and brushstrokes, and for the feminist and queer perspectives reflected in her work. the School of Art and Design honored her with a Distinguished Graduate Award in 2019.

“She was a very successful abstract expressionist at a time when there were many changes in artistic trends. 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 particularly interested in young women seeing successful female artists, and Fishman was generous with his time visiting studios and speaking with students.

Amy L. Powell, Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at KAM, worked closely with Fishman and his wife, Ingrid Nyeboe, to curate the retrospective.

“Louise was an incredible student of the history of painting, not just 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; she brings this real presence of her technique, of her attention. She’s very present in the work that way,” Powell said.

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 Poissonman

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The exhibit includes over 100 paintings and drawings, most 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 handpaint. 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”, extract from Leftover Colors, 1974. Acrylic on paper. 18 3/4 x 20 inches.

Courtesy of the artist. © Louise Poissonman

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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 reference Fishman’s Jewish, lesbian and feminist identities and reflect her social awareness and study of Buddhism. Many are dedicated to women in his community of lesbian artists, writers, scholars, friends, lovers, and spouse.

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

“His drawings 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 come through through her drawings, and they are works too. amazing 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, oilstick, graphite, staples, and wire with aluminum and paper-on-paper collage; Japanese Leporello binding. 6 3/8 x 3 5/8 x 1 5/8 inches.

Courtesy of the artist. © Louise Poissonman

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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 the show will appeal to people who already love abstract art, but also to anyone who is interested in how a woman takes on a whole story and a field of activity, and not only changes it, but shows us the stories we told about this activity – the feeling that men were dominating Abstract Expressionism – were never true,” she said.

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

Image of abstract artwork

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

Courtesy of the artist. © Louise Poissonman

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“Transfers” presents works that show evidence of contact. For example, Fishman would sometimes place tissue paper or masking tape over wet paint. During a visit to New Mexico in 1991, Fishman used rock chips and black ceramic stones for rubbing when she was struggling to paint following a fire that destroyed her studio. New York.

Fishman made a series of leporello books, which are bound in such a way that the paper unfolds like an accordion. Fishman hand-mixed egg tempera paint for the bright colors she used in the books, and she sometimes let the painted pages of the 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 Krannert Art Museum

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Her “Angry Women” series is made up of 30 paintings that associate the word “angry” with a first name, often that of someone known to the artist. The first of these, ‘Angry Louise’, expresses deep frustration and rage at society’s oppression of women. 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, a said Powell.

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

Image of abstract works by Louise Fishman created with canvas 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 out canvases and sewed them together and used non-traditional materials such as vellum or masking 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 Krannert Art Museum

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“Flat Folds” features a series of oil and wax drawings from folded paper works Fishman had done before and a lithograph Fishman made while he was a graduate student at U. of I. A 1977 interview with videographers Kate Horsfield and Lyn Blomenthal, in which Fishman talks about her 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 9/11 from her studio in Manhattan. Fishman began painting by putting paper on the floor of his studio, rather than his usual way of working on the wall, to process 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 exhibition on September 24 at 2 p.m. KAM will hold a public session opening reception From September 24 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. “A question of emphasis” will continue until February 26.

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