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Eric Fischl

A Visit To / A Visit From / The Island
1983

Not on view

Date
1983

Classification
Paintings

Medium
Oil on canvas

Dimensions
Overall: 84 × 168in. (213.4 × 426.7 cm)

Accession number
83.17a-b

Credit line
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; purchase, with funds from the Louis and Bessie Adler Foundation, Inc., Seymour M. Klein, President

Rights and reproductions
© Eric Fischl / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

Eric Fischl’s A Visit To/A Visit From/The Island uses two adjoining large canvases to contrast vastly disparate groups of people seemingly in the same setting. On the left he depicts what appears to be a white upper-middle-class American family of four vacationing at a sunny, holiday resort. The second panel portrays a frantic scene in which a group of black men and women, who appear to be refugees, try to pull themselves from a bluish black churning sea. Rendered in much darker, ominous hues than those of its counterpart, the frenzied image was based on a photograph of Haitian refugees arriving on the Florida coast. While the two canvases depict jarringly different scenes, the similarities between the images also emphasize their polarity. For instance, both depict foreshortened naked bodies lying diagonally in the foreground, highlighting the stark shifts in color and context between the panels. The relaxed laziness of the tourists pitted against the desperation of the Haitians emphasizes the inequalities between the two groups and the irony in the choices that racial difference and privilege allow—the whites are paying to visit an island that the residents risk their lives to leave. 





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A 30-second online art project:
LaTurbo Avedon, Morning Mirror / Evening Mirror

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