Janet Fish: Celebrating Light

By Kaplan, Morton A. | The World and I, September 1998 | Go to article overview

Janet Fish: Celebrating Light


Kaplan, Morton A., The World and I


Throughout her thirty-five-year career, Janet Fish has pursued her own direction in art, regardless of fashionable styles and concepts. In the early 1960s she began painting what she saw--a gutsy decision, as this was the heyday of Abstract Expressionism.

Her training at Yale University School of Art and Architecture during this time was in the precepts of the reigning style. "My first year at Yale," she recalls, "I was painting abstract paintings. Everybody was trying to paint like de Kooning." But in 1962, artist Alex Katz, sensing her struggle with the intellectual confines of Abstract Expressionism, encouraged her to "relax. Go out and paint the landscape."

Fish forged her own approach, and because prestigious positions teaching art were not available to her as a woman, she moved to New York, determined to make her way as an artist. "The first few years in the city were really, really rough," she says. "I wasn't making very much money and was living in a loft without heat or hot water." Holding odd jobs during the day, she poured herself into painting at night, at one point opening a cooperative gallery owned and operated by artists. Like many of its fellows, it closed after a year, and she then showed at other short-lived co-ops. When at last a commercial gallery gave her an exhibition, she was a smashing critical success. …

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