Joel Fisher

I wanted to come up with a graphic image that would provoke a response on a very deep level, and it occured to me that the images people respond to—like archetypal images— are often associated with accidents, like reading tea leaves.

Joel Fisher’s method of making art is often prompted by the paper he draws on. Fisher began making paper by hand in 1969 and was soon inspired to draw the unpredictably shaped hairs and fibers he saw in its material makeup. Michael Kimmelman wrote in a review of a solo show Fisher had in 1988 at New York’s Diane Brown Gallery that his “consistent, calligraphic vitality” and “twisting, bending objects illustrate just how much life can be gleaned from a single well-formed line. Mr. Fisher has created wistful, delicate snapshots of movement suspended that capture the elusive spark of creation.”

Fisher sees his drawings of hairs and fibers, which he calls “apographs,” as intersections between the physical world and how one understands it. The soft ground etchings and drypoints that he completed at Crown Point Press during his projects in 1980 and 1990 were printed on the same handmade paper they were inspired by. “These works are distinguished from normal drawings in two ways,” he has said. “In the drawings, the model and its depiction are both present in the work. Perhaps more significantly, these works are actual links between a material world and a spiritual world.” Fisher is primarily a sculptor, and many of his sculptures, done in clay, bronze, and other materials, are based on his apographs. Their resulting elegant, dancing forms are both abstract and figurative, as they are taken from life but do not depict recognizable things.

Fisher was born in 1947 in Salem, Ohio, and received his BA from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. He taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts,  the Rhode Island School of Design, the Bath Academy of Art in England, and Newcastle University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England, where in 2003 he was awarded the Henry Moore Fellowship. Fisher has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Pollock-Krasner Grant. He has had solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art Oxford, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Kunstmuseum Lüzern, Switzerland, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and his work is in the collections of the Tate Modern and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the Staatliche Museum in Berlin and the Stadtisches Museum in Monchengladbach, Germany. He lives and works in Brooklyn, Vermont and Paris. He is represented by Galerie Farideh Cadot, Paris.

-Rachel Lyon, Crown Point Press


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