Born in New York City in 1948, Eric Fischl grew up in the suburbs of Long Island, his parents having moved there shortly before his second year. “Safer place to raise a family,” they used to say. Against a backdrop of alcoholism and a country club culture obsessed with image over content, Fischl became focussed on the rift between what was experienced and what could not be said. Until the late 70’s, suburbia was not considered a legitimate genre for art. With his first New York show at the Edward Thorp Gallery, epithets like “psycho-sexual suburban dramas” became velcroed to his disturbing images of dyfunctional family life.
Fischl began his art education in Phoenix, Arizona where his parents had moved in 1967. First at Phoenix Junior College, then a year at Arizona State University, and finally getting his BFA in 1972 at the recently opened California Institute of the Arts in Valencia,California. After graduation he moved to Chicago where he worked as a guard at the Museum of Contemporary Art. 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,” Fischl has said. In 1974, he got a job teaching painting at the highly touted Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. It is there that he met his future wife, the painter, April Gornik. In 1978 they moved to New York City where they continue to live and work.