The figures depicted in Nicole Eisenman’s paintings and works on paper often convey a sense of unsettled contemplation and disenchantment. Typically highly personal and speaking explicitly to our current economic and political environment, her works ultimately go beyond these themes to explore a broader interest in the human condition. From allegorical tableaux such as The Drawing Class (on view in the Museum Lobby) to individual portraits like Breakup and the untitled monotypes shown in the Biennial galleries, she exhibits a fascination with human interaction and detachment. Every subject is depicted in a unique and distinctive manner, in accordance with the artist’s belief that “different images ask to be painted in different ways” and adding to the impression that each of her subjects, even those sharing a scene with other figures, exists in an isolated psychological space.
Combining an erudite, easygoing virtuosity and deadpan humor with a wide variety of techniques culled from the history of painting and printmaking, Eisenman carves out a world in which meaning is elusive if not painfully unavailable. Often identified with significant shifts in feminist art of the 1990s, her practice embraces popular culture and encompasses many types of media and subject matter. Through all of it is revealed an artist— frequently cited as one of the seminal painters of her generation—both passionate and with a remarkable facility for witty self-critique, deeply invested in exploring her own time, in all its forms.
Nicole Eisenman’s work is on view in the Museum’s third floor galleries and in the lobby.