Janet Fish

Janet Fish: Into the Light

12 February—22 June 2008

Have you ever been captivated by a cabbage or stunned by salad dressing? Are you aware that the canned vegetables that line the shelves of your pantry and the glass dishes that hide behind your cupboard doors secretly possess the power to excite your senses? Visitors to Janet Fish: Into the Light, a retrospective exhibition organized in collaboration with the Southern Vermont Arts Center, will never again overlook inconspicuous household objects. On display are nearly 30 works by the artist, including oil paintings, watercolors, and pastel drawings that exemplify her enduring fascination with light and reflections.

Janet Fish is a highly acclaimed artist and recipient of numerous awards, including the William A. Paton Prize from the National Academy Museum, and the American Artist Achievement Award. Her work has been exhibited at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, and The Art Institute of Chicago.

Born into a family of artists, Fish demonstrated artistic talent at an early age. She graduated from Smith College and went on to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale. While it was her ability that guided her through school, it was her strong will and self-confidence that helped her forge a successful career. In the 1960s, when Abstract Expressionism dominated the art scene, Fish defiantly dove headlong into realism. She emerged as a “painterly realist,” projecting the physicality and dynamism of Abstract Expressionism onto realist subject matter.

Vincent Katz, an independent curator, describes her paintings as “dazzling, gossamer tours de force of glass, light, and shadow.” He explains: “She has frequently chosen subjects considered to be off-limits, boldly flouting received opinion. Her paintings of things can be seen as pure delight, beautiful objects that convey no message, that cause the mind to stop thinking and to contemplate the marvel before one’s eye. That contemplation can go on for many years. “Her “unmistakable style” has been described by art critic Dottie Indyke as “realism injected with a dose of expressionistic passion.” Each of her large canvasses—which typically measure between four and eight feet in length—burst with lushly saturated colors, energy, motion, and vivid light.

Image captions:

Janet Fish (American, b. 1938)
Painted Water Glasses
Oil on canvas, 1974
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Purchase, with sunds from Susan David Workman, 74.15
Photograph Sheldan C. Collins

Janet Fish (American, b. 1938)
8 Vinegar Bottles
Oil on canvas, 1972-1973
Dallas Museum of art, gift of The 500, Inc.

Janet Fish (American, b. 1938)
Spring Evening
Oil on canvas, 1977
Rose Art Museum,
Brandeis University
Courtesy of Herbert W. Plimpton Collection

Janet Fish (American, b. 1938)
Kraft Salad Dressing
Oil on canvas, 1973
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Richard Barancik (parents of Jill Barancik, class of 1986)
Photograph Petegorsky/Gipe

Janet Fish (American, b. 1938)
Lawn Sale
Oil on canvas, 2000
Courtesy of the artist and DC Moore Gallery, New York