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Janet Fish: Paintings and Drawings Since 1975

September 10 to October 3, 1987

Marsh Art Gallery, University of Richmond Museums


The Marsh Gallery takes pride in opening its 1987-88 season with the first Virginia exhibition of paintings and drawings by Janet Fish, acknowledged master of the contemporary still life according to art critic Gerrit Henry.

While this exhibition is intended to emphasize her current work it is also slightly retrospective, including work dating from 1975 to 1987, so that the viewer will understand the progression as well as the increasing depth of the artist's oeuvre.

In the midst of a "postmodern" era, hype and novelty sell art. Even so, Janet Fish's work stands apart from these sensibilities by its quiet integrity and technical brilliance. Undaunted by the dogma of pure abstraction which reigned in her formative years, Janet Fish connected with images in the real world. Rooted in the Modernist formal tradition and the Dutch still life genre tradition, her work adheres to the world of concrete contemporary experience. Fish's simple, familiar subjects are rendered with formal complexity, richness of detail and the vibrant, tropical palette of her childhood.

Her paintings of the early '70s, in which she combined realistic subjects with an abstract handling of paint, established her career. Yet, as this exhibition reveals, over the last twelve years she has taken progressively more risks with color and composition as well as with the integration of the figure. For example, Fourth of July (1985), unleashes all the possibilities of color and intricacy that are restrained and unexplored in her studies of glasses in the '70s. Additionally, the deep illusionistic space and narrative allusion in Waiting for Will (1986) severs Fish's tie with Modernism.

Although Fish's paintings may be loosely placed within the category of Realism--the cool, objective representation of the material world-they resist such tidy indexing. The tour de force of Fish's work is her personal response to her subjects. Her sensory perceptions thus yield a beauty and joie de vivre that ultimately dominate the paintings.

Susan Arnold
Marsh Gallery

Publication Date



University of Richmond Museums


Richmond, VA


Janet Fish, paintings, drawing, University of Richmond Museums, postmodern art, Modernist art, Marsh Gallery


Art and Design | Fine Arts | Painting

Janet Fish: Paintings and Drawings Since 1975