Janet Fish: AN AMERICAN MASTER
Women in the Arts Panel Discussion with Janet Fish and Lucy Gans: Thursday, September 27 from 4:30-6:00. Moderated by Silagh White, ArtsLehigh. Reception to follow, 6-8pm. Main Gallery, Zoellner Arts Center.
Janet Fish is known for her richly-colored still life paintings and prints, often depicting domestic interiors and objects. She has noted that the still life genre offers both realism and abstraction, and her use of transparent objects, particularly glass, provides a masterful sense of depth and volume.
“Painting for me has always been like opening a door to a dark
room and saying okay, I’m going to step in. I hope there’s a
Fish was born in Boston, Massachusetts and raised on the island of Bermuda. Her mother was a sculptor and potter, and her father taught art history. She was also inspired by her grandfather, American Impressionist painter Clark Voorhees.
She studied sculpture and printmaking at Smith College (B.A.) and received her B.F.A. and Master of Fine Arts from Yale University School of Art & Architecture, one of the first women to do so. She was strongly influenced in the movement of light in depiction of objects by Alex Katz, Josef Albers at Yale, and was a student of another American Master, Philip Pearlstein.
Fish has been influenced by feminist ideas. In the late 1960s women artists were under-represented in museums and academia, and she was advised to seek teaching positions at women’s schools. Her meticulous rendering of domestic objects could have been construed as mere female household items at the time.
Although her work has been called photorealist, the composition, abstract forms and extraordinary color are from a painter’s eye, and she has said that still-life offers the most innovative possibilities. She arranges objects that are both everyday ordinary yet strikingly remarkable, in unusual scale. Many are from her glassware collections. Fish says that “what you get from painting is the experience of seeing….the subject is the light and the way it moves around within the still life.”
Precisely arranged compositions of visual movement and vivid color have become the hallmarks of her mastery, both in paintings and the innovative screenprints, lithographs and woodcuts with which she began experimenting in the 1970s. She is especially interested in the abstract effects of light through translucent objects, such as glass jars and bottles. They are often depicted as part of everyday indoor and outdoor life at her farmhouse in Vermont and at her loft in Soho, New York City.
The work of Janet Fish has been shown in major art venues throughout the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum of American Art and Art Institute of Chicago, and is included in numerous public and private collections internationally. Her awards include the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in 1994, and several MacDowell Fellowships.
Numerous publications on the art of Janet Fish include The Prints of Janet Fish by Linda Konheim Kramer, Janet Fish by Garret Henry, Janet Fish: Paintings by Vincent Katz, Janet Fish by Trevor Fairbrother, Janet Fish by Robert Berlind & Stephen Bennett, The Art of Janet Fish by Michael Culver, and Color and Light: The Art of Janet Fish by Nancy Grimes.
Photo Essay by Theo Anderson.
PANEL DISCUSSION: "Women in the Arts": Fall 2007