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Film Details

PRODUCERS: Edgar B. Howard, Harry Philbrick 
DIRECTOR: Edgar B. Howard

Eric Fischl: The Process of Painting

LISTED UNDER: Painting & Sculpture


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Developed as an adjunct to the exhibition Dive Deep: Eric Fischl and the Process of Painting, this 35-minute film is a co-production with the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (PAFA) in Philadelphia. It is comprised of excerpts from interviews conducted by PAFA Director Harry Philbrick and Associate Curator Jodi Throckmorton of the San Jose Museum of Art in California at Fischl’s Long Island and New York City studios. The film charts the course of the artist’s creative process from his days as a student at California Institute of the Arts to the present.

Fischl speaks candidly and with a comedic sense about his schooling – breaking away from minimal abstraction, revolting against the suggestion that painting was dead, particularly figurative painting, as well as finding his own voice. He is generous in the detail of his approach, sharing questions he attempts to answer in his paintings along with the challenges of composition, concluding, “at a certain point paintings paint themselves. You just carry out what (they’re) telling you to do. You can’t change it.”

Fischl works throughout the film in various media – paint, photography, sculpture and watercolor – moving effortlessly between each whilst opining on their respective merits. He lets us in on his influences, including the sculpture of Auguste Rodin and the paintings and photographs of Thomas Eakins. What connects them to his own broad body of work is the human figure; Fischl states, “ I am interested in the relationship that a person has with their body. Their body is this interface between an internal world of feeling, self-regard, self loathing and this socialized world of availability signals, desire… you read all that. And that’s the stuff that I am riveted to…that’s the thing I find the most compelling about watching people.”

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