Eric Fischl (born 1948) is an American painter.
Fischl was born in New York City and grew up on suburban Long Island; his family moved to Phoenix, Arizona in 1967. His own web site describes him as growing up "[a]gainst a backdrop of alcoholism and a country club culture obsessed with image over content."
His art education began at Phoenix College, then a year at Arizona State University, then California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California, where he earned his BFA in 1972. He then moved to Chicago, taking a job as a guard at the Museum of Contemporary Art.
His own website accounts, "It was in Chicago that Fischl was exposed to the non-mainstream art of the Hairy Who. 'The underbelly, carnie world of Ed Paschke and the hilarious sexual vulgarity of Jim Nutt were revelatory experiences for me.'"
In 1974, he took a job teaching painting at Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, where he met painter April Gornik, with whom he moved back to New York City in 1978 and later married.
Currently, Fischl still works and resides in New York City. In addition, he is a senior critic at the New York Academy of Art.
Fischl has embraced the description of himself as a painter of the suburbs, not generally considered appropriate subject matter prior to his generation. Some of Fischl's earlier works have a theme of adolescent sexuality and voyeurism, such as Sleepwalker (1979) which depicts an adolescent boy masturbating into a children's pool. Bad Boy (1981) and Birthday Boy (1983) both depict young boys looking at older women shown in provocative poses on a bed. In Bad Boy, the subject is surreptitiously slipping his hand into a purse. In Birthday Boy, the child is depicted naked on the bed.
In 2002, Fischl collaborated with the Museum Haus Esters in Krefeld, Germany. Haus Esters is a 1928 home, designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1928 to be a private home. It now houses changing exhibitions. Fischl refurnished it as a home (though not particularly in Bauhaus style, and hired models who, for several days, pretended to be a couple who lived there. He took 2,000 photographs, which he reworked digitally and used as the basis for a series of paintings, one of which, the monumental Krefeld Project, Bedroom #6 (Surviving the Fall Meant Using You for Handholds) (2004) was purchased by Paul Allen featured in the 2006 Double Take Exhibit at Experience Music Project, where it was juxtaposed with a much smaller Degas pastel. This is by no means the first time Fischl has been compared to Degas. Twenty years earlier, reviewing a show of 28 Fischl paintings at New York's Whitney Museum, John Russell wrote in the New York Times, "[Degas] sets up a charged situation with his incomparable subtlety of insight and characterization, and then he goes away and leaves us to figure it out as best we can. That is the tactic of Fischl, too, though the society with which he deals has an unstructured brutality and a violence never far from release that are very different from the nicely calibrated cruelties that Degas recorded."