Eric Fischl next artist to lend his voice to Contemporary Conversations

OTTAWA, Aug. 27, 2015 /CNW/ - U.S. Embassy Ottawa and the U.S. Department of State's Office of Art in Embassies, in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada (NGC), will welcome renowned American artist Eric Fischl to Ottawa on September 10 for the third lecture in the Contemporary Conversations series.  

Contemporary Conversations (#artconvoAIE) features internationally recognized American artists who are visiting Canada over the course of 2015 to speak about their work. Each artist in the series participates in a public lecture at the NGC, stimulating conversation around issues that transcend borders, and topics that inspire, teach, and create connections. As a foundation for the lecture series at the NGC, the participating artists' work is displayed in an exhibition at Lornado, the official residence of U.S. Ambassador to Canada Bruce Heyman and Vicki Heyman, who helped to spearhead the series. Eric Fischl's Tumbling Woman (2012) watercolor and maquette are part of that exhibition.

The third in this series of moderated public dialogues will feature Fischl, an internationally acclaimed American painter and sculptor. Hailed as one of the most influential artists of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, Fischl is well-known for the way his work conveys psychological nuances of the human condition while highlighting particularities of the body.

In conjunction with the discussion, a life-size translucent cast acrylic version of Fischl's iconic Tumbling Woman sculpture will be temporarily displayed at the National Gallery from 4–14 September, and then at the U.S. Embassy until 23 October.  Expressing the vulnerability of a body in space, Tumbling Woman was first created in response to the events of 9/11.

"We chose the Tumbling Woman pieces, the stunningly beautiful watercolor and sculpture created by Eric post 9-11, because they examine the human condition and how people relate to internal and external feelings of vulnerability and loss," said Vicki Heyman.

"Eric Fischl is a unique voice in contemporary American art, certainly as an artist, but also as a public speaker. I very much look forward to our exchange and thank our friends at the United States Embassy most warmly for this engaging series of encounters with exceptional American artists," said National Gallery of Canada Director and CEO Marc Mayer.

In February 2015, Marie Watt, was the first artist featured in the Contemporary Conversations series at the NGC in Ottawa. In May, Nick Cave participated in second installment, while Stephen Wilkes will close the year-long series with a lecture on November 19.  Additional artists represented in the Art in Embassies exhibition at Lornado include Edward Burtynsky, Chuck Close, Theaster Gates, Alex Katz, and Hung Liu.  

Registration for the Eric Fischl lecture is now closed. Members of the public who wish to RSVP for the next lecture, featuring artist Stephen Wilkes on November 19, can do so beginning October 19 at

More information about the series can be found at

About Eric Fischl

Eric Fischl was born in 1948 in New York City and grew up in the suburbs of Long Island. He attended Phoenix College, Arizona, and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the California Institute for the Arts, Valencia, in 1972. Fischl then spent time in Chicago, Illinois, where he worked as a guard at the Museum of Contemporary Art.

In 1974 he moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to teach painting at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Fischl had his first solo show at Dalhousie Art Gallery in Nova Scotia in 1975 before relocating to New York City in 1978. Fischl's suburban upbringing provided him with a backdrop of alcoholism and a country club culture obsessed with image over content.

His early work thus became focused on the rift between what was experienced and what could not be said. He first received critical attention for depicting dark, disturbing undercurrents of mainstream American life.

"I called [the sculpture] tumbling as opposed to falling because I wanted it to have a feeling of lateral motion . . . a feeling that we're in motion, heading somewhere and not in control. I wanted to express that feeling of vulnerability that comes when we have lost our equilibrium: uprooted, no longer fixed. I also decided to make it a woman as opposed to a man because I think historically the woman still holds as a symbol for vulnerability as well as for nurturing and caretaking within our cultural framework."

Biography courtesy of

About the National Gallery of Canada

The National Gallery of Canada (NGC) is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The NGC also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit

About Art in Embassies

Established in 1963 by President John F. Kennedy, The U.S. Department of State's Office of Art in Embassies plays a leading role in U.S. public diplomacy by promoting cross-cultural dialogue through the visual arts.  A premier example of  public-private arts partnership, Art in Embassies maintains a presence in more than 200 venues in 190 countries worldwide, and has worked with over 20,000 individual and institutional partners.  For more information please visit:    


SOURCE National Gallery of Canada

For further information: Valerie Laforce, Media Assistant, U.S. Embassy Ottawa,, 613-688-5316; Josée-Britanie Mallet, Senior Media and Public Relations Officer, National Gallery of Canada,, 613-990-6835

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