Skip to comments.Woman on a Horse... [Re: Peyser's Attack on Fischl's "Tumbling Woman"]
Posted on 09/19/2002 11:34:26 AM PDT by paulklenk
Not since the communist Diego Rivera painted his mural for Rockefeller Center has there been such a ruckus about a piece of art in Midtown. The contretemps has erupted over Eric Fischls Tumbling Woman, which he sculpted during the weeks when he kept thinking of the image of bodies falling from the World Trade Center. I didnt see it, he told our Rachel Donadio last week, but it was the most complicated, infinitely complicated resonant image. He captured it in the form of a woman in free fall, her legs in the air, her head and neck pulling her downward to the earth that will receive her. A memorably haunting sculpture, it was installed at Rockefeller Center, where it stood until it was encountered by the celebrated columnist of the New York Post, Andrea Peyser.
Ms. Peyser, herself a New York monument, issued a column that ran under the headline Shameful Art Attack. She called the Fischl work a violently disturbing sculpture. Is it art? she asked. Or assault? Near the sculpture she encountered a man who had witnessed bodies falling from the World Trade Center and who felt the sculpture was disgusting. Its awful, she quoted him as saying. Its awful. She also quoted a security guard who said he felt as if he were being dragged against his will back to the terrible day when he actually watched human beings fall from the sky. Within hours of Ms. Peysers column hitting the pavement, Rockefeller Center folded and announced that it would remove the work, which otherwise would have been on display through September 23.
The record will probably show that Mr. Fischl lasted longer at Rockefeller Center than Diego Rivera managed to do. His mural incurred the wrath of Old Man Rockefeller because it included a portrait of Lenin. Rockefeller wanted Lenin removed. Riveras assistants threatened to go on strike, and the great muralist agreed with them, refusing to remove Lenin but offering to put in some images of American heroes. One account of the imbroglio that we found on the Internet speculated that Rivera knew Rockefeller wouldnt go for the compromise, because the artist surreptitiously had the mural photographed. Rockefeller had it covered up, but promised not to destroy it. The promise was broken, and the mural, in its original form, was reduced to powder. Rivera, and his wife, Frida Kahlo, returned to Mexico. The mural was put up in a new form in the Museum of the Palace of Fine Arts at Mexico City.
Somehow we have the feeling that New York was the loser in that transaction. Rivera may have been a communist, but he was a muralist with few peers (which is why Old Rockefeller wooed him to do the painting in the first place). Fischl, too, is a master painter. Were no fans of a lot of what passes for public art around town, but Tumbling Woman is no abstract lump of bronze. It is an extraordinary rendering of a woman in one of the most gripping poses we can imagine in art. It captured a moment that will live in the imagination of New York forever, and it deserves a place in the city. Not, as we say, that we lack regard for the Great Peyser. She deserves her own statue, perhaps in that plaza in front of the News Corp. building on Sixth Avenue. Call it Woman on a High Horse. A good man for the job would be Eric Fischl.
I will never understand the need to celebrate murder and death.
Now, THAT's a good idea!
. The article Peyser wrote is here.
The present day rockefellers probably would have dug it up and put it on display it the old man hadn't smashed it to bits.
I'm an artist myself. I rail against crudity for crudity's sake.
This piece is different. Its reality is poignant...truth is like that. The only criticism I have is that it should never have been displayed in NYC. Anywhere else, the piece would have been startling but thought provoking which is exactly the intent of the artist.
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