Eric Fischl was born in New York in 1948. He graduated from the California Institute of Arts in Valencia, in 1972, and was a teacher between 1974 and 1978 at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Halifax. Fischl had his first solo show, curated by Bruce W. Ferguson, at Dalhousie Art Gallery in Nova Scotia in 1975 before relocating to New York City in 1978.
Fischl works in multiple media such as painting, sculpture and prints, and is mostly known for his large scale, naturalistic images of middle-class American life. His suburban upbringing provided him with a backdrop of alcoholism and a culture obsessed with image over content. Subsequently, his early work became focused on provocative yet truthful issues deemed repugnant by polite society. The powerful underlying sexuality in his works, often portray intimate moments that the viewer is helplessly made privy of and address the dark and disturbing undercurrents of mainstream American life. Fischl’s large human-scale figures only emphasize the voyeuristic feeling of his images, and imbue them with a psychological, almost dream-like intensity. His earlier paintings are highly reminiscent of the Photorealism works of the 1960s, and during the 1980s his style expanded to fragmented images split into separate panels, which he used for paintings and etchings.
Eric Fischl has exhibited extensively throughout the United States and Europe. In 2025, he will have a major traveling exhibition originating at the Phoenix Museum of Art, which will be on view at various venues through 2027. Recent solo exhibitions of his work have been held in institutions such as Dallas Contemporary in 2018 in Dallas, Texas; the Albertina in 2014 in Vienna, Austria; the Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Malaga in 2010 in Malaga, Spain; the Kestnergesellschaft in 2007-2008 in Hannover; Germany, the Stadtkirche Darmstadt in 2006 in Darmstadt, Germany; and the Delaware Center of Contemporary Art in 2006 in Wilmington, DE. He has also participated in exhibitions in major institutions such as the The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Musée Beaubourg in Paris, France; and the The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York. Fischl’s work has been featured in over one thousand publications.
Alongside his wife, the painter April Gornik, Eric Fischl is the co-founder of The Church in Sag Harbor, a nonprofit arts center that hosts a residency program, a rotating set of exhibitions, workshops, lectures, and a browsing library. Fischl was also the founder, President and lead curator for America: Now and Here. This multi-disciplinary exhibition of 150 of some of America’s most celebrated visual artists, musicians, poets, playwrights, and filmmakers is designed to spark a national conversation about American identity through the arts. The project launched on May 5th, 2011 in Kansas City and travelled to Detroit and Chicago. The cross-country journey then continued in a roving museum and performance space contained within six 18-wheeler trucks that travelled to communities from coast to coast.
Eric Fischl is a Fellow at both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Science. He lives and works in Sag Harbor, NY with his wife.