Janet Fish: Paintings

Vincent Katz, Author
Vincent Katz, Author ABRAMS $60 (168p) ISBN 978-0-8109-3298-2
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At the confluence of minimalism, Pop art and photorealism, Fish arrived on the art scene in the late 60s with a kind of Pop nominalism of stark images of everyday objects (jars, fruit) that gleamed as if they were haloed in sunlight. The lavish plays of color and reflection she captured were balanced by a neat modesty of composition: water glasses on a window sill, Windex bottles against a creamy, Thiebaudian backdrop, peels of cellophane glistening. Quickly, however, the paintings became virtuosic to the point of clutter, with piles of flowers, fruits, toys, cut glass and leaded crystal sparkling over wrinkled tablecloths or mirrored surfaces, all rendered in a brilliant fauvist palette that fit the ornate subject matter like a glove. Orange Bowl and Yellow Apples (1980) is a riot of color, while Double Rainbow (1996) places Fish's familiar still life outdoors, against the backdrop of a sky that has just stopped its torrents of rain. With a mild essay by poet and art critic Katz, which offers a concise overview of the artist's progress from Yale to now, this large (but rather thin) catalogue captures the progress of a sharp-eyed painter from ambitious outbreak to long middle career of haute-bourgeois prosperity. As Katz says,""Her paintings of things can be seen as...beautiful objects that convey no message, that cause the mind to stop thinking and to contemplate the marvel before one's eyes.""
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