Unfinished Business: Paintings from the 1970s and 1980s - Parrish Art Museum
By Charles Pryor
Typically, we’re not usually known for our coverage of non-photography events. However, we are making an exception for Parrish Art Museum’s compelling Unfinished Business: Paintings from the 1970s and 1980s by Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl, and David Salle. Eric Fischl was prominently featured in our most recent issue, Place, for his use of photo montage as the model for his paintings. The trio met in the early 1970’s at the California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles, finding a common interest in painting when most had dismissed the medium as archaic. Taking their talents to New York in the 80s, these men helped revitalize the art form and proved its relevance amidst the emerging artistic practices of the time. All three gravitated towards painting as a means of expressing their shared interest in the concept of simultaneous satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Although they embrace drastically different styles, Fischl, Salle, and Bleckner constructed complex images that, although likely, have endured for nearly 40 years in the modern art scene.
The Parrish Art Museum released a catalog accompanying the event, which contains vibrant reproductions of all their artworks on display. The collection begins with an introduction by the museum Director, Terrie Sultan, who discusses the significance of the artists’ efforts and the impact they’ve had on American art. Following this reflection is an essay by curator and exhibition organizer David Pagel, who provides a deep analysis on how the artists’ differing styles tackle the same subject at heart. The two then conduct an extensive interview with the artists, who expound upon the trials they’ve had to overcome in the early stages of their careers. Artist Mary Heilmann also penned a reflection on her perspective of their work and how it’s changed from distaste to gripping fascination over time. The catalog concludes with an elaborate timeline of world events from 1933 to 2015, highlighting the artists’ personal experiences and the major events that shaped their careers.