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The Collection of Thomas and Doris Ammann


signed, titled and dated 'BAYONNE 1986 Eric Fischl' (on the reverse of the left panel); titled 'BAYONNE’ (on the reverse of the right panel)
diptych—oil on canvas
102 x 132 in. (259 x 336 cm.)
Painted in 1986.
Mary Boone Gallery, New York
Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Zurich
Acquired from the above by the present owner
N. Grimes, "Eric Fischl's Naked Truths," ARTnews, September 1986, vol. 85, no. 7, p. 78 (illustrated).
Eric Fischl: Scenes Before the Eye, exh. cat., Long Beach, University Art Museum, 1986, p. 12, fig. 2 (illustrated).
P. Schjeldahl and P. Whitney, eds., Eric Fischl, New York, 1988, n.p., no. 72 (illustrated).
"Eric Fischl: Billeder af Livet I Forstaederne. Interview with Lars Morell," SKALA Nordisk Magasin for Arkitektur og Kunst, no. 24-25, 1991, p. 35 (illustrated).
M. Kyndrup and C. Madsen, eds., Det Forskudte. Aestetikstudier I, Aarhus, 1995, n.p., fig. 3 (illustrated).
A. C. Danto, R. Enright and S. Martin, Eric Fischl, 1970-2000, New York, 2000, p. 135 (illustrated).
Frankfurt, Schirn Kunsthalle, Prospect 86, September-November 1986, p. 86 (illustrated).
Vienna, Akademie der Bildenden Künste Wien; Lausanne, Musée Cantonal des Beaux-Arts, Eric Fischl: Bilder und Zeichnungen/Peintures et Dessins, April-July 1990, pp. 56-57 (illustrated).
Aarhus Kunstmuseum; Humlebaek, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Eric Fischl, January-June 1991, p. 69, no. 14 (illustrated).
Frankfurt, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Szenenwechsel XVII, February-August 2000.
Zurich, Thomas Ammann Fine Art AG, Thirty Three Women, June-September 2003, n.p., no. 18 (illustrated).
Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Eric Fischl: Paintings and Drawings 1979-2001/Gemälde und Zeichnungen 1979-2001, September 2003-January 2004, p. 35 (illustrated).


Isabella Lauria
Isabella Lauria Vice President, Specialist, Head of 21st Century Evening Sale


A celebrated force in the revival of contemporary painting in the 1980s, Eric Fischl has continued to explore the possibilities of representation and allegory. Measuring eleven feet wide, the painting is expansive in scale, yet intimate in content. This is typical of the artist’s work, which often turns minutiae into psychological landscapes or epic scenes worthy of the big screen. With one panel meant to hinge on the wall, Bayonne fragments the scene, like a spliced film strip, photomontage, or collage. Filled with pathos, mystery, and painterly innovation, Bayonne is exemplary of the continued power of Fischl’s work to amaze and perplex.

Critic Donald Kuspit wrote of Bayonne and another diptych exhibited at Fischl’s solo exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1986, “The disjunctiveness not only signals their condition as inventions but also the tentative, theatrical character of the relationships depicted, and the possibility that even their protagonists recognize them to be fictions” (D. Kuspit, “Eric Fischl: Whitney Museum of American Art,” Artforum, Summer 1986, Still, the fiction speaks to universal truths. An older woman, graceful and tastefully nude, gazes upon a young girl in a tutu, perhaps a younger version of herself. A vase of flowers adds vibrance to her already arresting gaze. Fischl muses on this moment, “You sense that maybe this woman is reflecting on her past” (N. Beber, “The Heat of the Moment,” American Theatre, November 2005, p. 51). The interiors they inhabit seem contiguous in their suburban dreaminess, though they exist at different times and on different canvases. Fischl’s otherworldly, Lynchian use of blue and beige has a nostalgic quality that fills the imagined relationship between these figures with love and longing. Caught in motion, it is as if the girl pushes back against the future, even as the old woman looks upon it with desire. Bayonne thus distills our fears and hopes, inviting us to see our own lives within the scene. As with Edgar Degas, Bayonne invites us into a private scene filled with dreamlike associations. In 1986, John Russell wrote in The New York Times of this comparison, “[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…” (J. Russell, “At the Whitney: 28 Eric Fischl Paintings,” The New York Times, February 21, 1986, Yet Fischl has remained ceaselessly contemporary, drawing upon nineteenth century Realism and Impressionism to speak to the concerns of our moment.

Fischl, alongside other postmodern painters like David Salle and Julian Schnabel, changed the face of painting in the 1980s, which had fallen out of favor with the rise of photography and the Pictures Generation. Deemed Neo-Expressionists, these artists used painting to explore emotion and narrative, all with a postmodern refusal of easy answers. Theorizing the importance of painting, Fischl muses, “There’s something sacred about paint. You make a pact with the painting, you will be responsible for whatever you’re putting on it, what you find out” (A.M. Homes, “Eric Fischl by A.M. Homes,” BOMB Magazine, January 1, 1995, In addition to centering the expressiveness of paint, Fischl often turns his eye to suburbia, creating misty and fraught dramas with no indication of how they should make us feel, or what might happen next. This is not an act of withholding, but rather of empowering the viewer to create their own worlds from the evocative fragments of Bayonne. We might find ourselves thinking about the passage of time and the beauty inherent in seeing how far we have come from our youths.

Represented in numerous prestigious collections, Fischl is also a Fellow at both the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has mounted numerous solo exhibitions, most recently in 2018 at Dallas Contemporary, Texas. Fischl is also the founder, president, and lead curator for America: Now and Here, an organization that partners with celebrated artists in all media to think through American identity. He is also a celebrated writer; his memoir Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas was published by Random House in 2013.

Bayonne is quiet and subtle despite its size, which proves that each slice of life deserves to be treated grandly. Though there is fear inherent in the march of time, Bayonne insists on its beauty, creating a poem from intertwined selves brought together by paint. As tender as the relationship between the figures, Fischl’s love and appreciation for paint comes through, making his medium itself the painting’s subject.

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