How Nicole Eisenman’s Paintings Will Steal Your Heart
How Nicole Eisenman’s Paintings Will Steal Your Heart
By Tia Moreen /
Nov 29, 2016

Since time immemorial, paintings rarely spark a radiation of warmth and glee in my soul, but a recent stumble on Nicole Eisenman’s artistry changed my perspective on paintings for life. The paintings genius has awakened a new revolution in New York after establishing the much awaited “Al-ugh-ories New Museum.” A collection of her 25 artistic works which entails her renown 22 paintings and a glimpse of her two former sculptures takes a larger portion of the pioneer museum survey. The selection is objectively portrayed to present the symbolic predisposition of her art.     

Nicole Eisenman works seem to portray a deep seated meaning. Though the central motif  behind her works may prove futile to comprehend to those who pick the meaning of her works from the pebbles lying on the top of the sand, Massimiliano Gioni explains that her artistry has transformed to a leading voice in the queer community (Davis, 2016). Such an assertion sheds light on the mystery that has descended upon myriads of visitors to the New York New Museum. It expounds on her end-goal when she picked ink and a quill and sat briskly for hours to produce one of the painting masterpieces of our time. The deep meaning is further articulated by her defensive reaction to a published article that asserts that “she could not purport to segregate a group of people and still maintain having a voice for anyone but herself” (Davis, 2016).     

Eisenman’s mastery and expertise has a genesis in her academic pursuits which stems from her enrollment in Rhodes Island School of Design. The niche of her Institutional affiliation exposed her to the hardcore punk world but later deserted it seeking a queer society to merge with. She was seeking a unique place to reconnect with her self-a place of solitude. The urge drove her to New York in 1987 where she was warmly welcomed with a “distasteful predisposition” which squarely matched hers. She also had an opportunity to view an ex post facto of 1980 paintings that reconnected with her soul. She was indeed convinced that art was her world and she owned it in her hands and mind. It was a thrilling epiphany that spurred her to pursue her passion.      

As love overwhelms the realm of individuals in their teenage or post-teenage years, Nicole was not an exception. As love took the best part in her mid-‘90s, she transformed to an introvert and cut cords with both her family and the public in general. However, such seclusion didn’t deter her from interacting with the culture she was largely part of.  She began having a multi-dimensional perspective which allowed her to view the world differently. She developed an intellectual edge towards the world around her while initiating a vigilant introspection to her personal experience.     

Nicole had to face a world of art with a fresh approach which contradicted with what she had formerly experienced or learned in school. It takes courage and resilience to win an outward battle with contravenes with the inward strength, and that’s a lesson Nicole had to learn as she created art which rebelled with the world of familiarity. She felt being in the hands of the wrong people and completely out of place. Despite the imposed hurdles that she encountered, individuals who understood and appreciated her school of thought soon mushroomed to her rescue. Despite having a unique touch of class and a controversial psychosexual exploration, her paintings were warmly embraced. Her Self-Portrait With Exploded Whitney was arraigned in 1995’s Biennial magazine. This largely extrapolated her comical and uniquely witty perspective on art.   

To fully comprehend her “al-ugh-orical” art, it is prerequisite to not a sense of separation which is clear in her artistry. For instance, her 2004 Commerce Feeds Creativity which denotes a lascivious bowler-hatted male figure who seems to be spoon-feeding a bound nauseous-looking nude female figure with a liquid dripping from her face down to her chest has a deep seated meaning. The painting exhibits a symbol of a chauvinistic male dominated world with an extremity of abusing and or robbing the rights of the female participants in the art world.   

In addition, even though her paintings are centered in an allegorical approach, it is almost visible that her art, to a larger part, rests in a romantic inclination. In this regard, Hamlet- her 2007 art which displays a hermaphrodite depiction of the Prince of Denmark with an exquisite onstage seclusion and who is holding a skull in hand has a tale of centered anti-sexism. Through her New Museum online platform, she expounds that while painting her Hamlet portrait, she took into account of the presence of a vigilant and sensitive leader when her motherland had culminated into the final phase of Bush’s presidency.     

An overview of her art collection signifies that she had delved in a unique symbolic mode just as she had previously crafted an amalgamation of textures and painting approaches which mimicked Philip Guston and Edvard Munch art works. Despite the sense of divergent depictions in her array of paintings, a common soft ground seems to set a foundation in all. There is a resonant perception of separation of her figures, which might seem to highlight an undertone of stigma closely linked to the queer world or to a closely related sphere of sexuality.   

Though an air of mystery pervades throughout her works, it is the incessant extrapolation of comical highlights that transfixes the attention of her audience. Take for instance her 2009 The Triumph of Poverty portrait which vibrantly shows a shuffling parade of shadowy unkempt individuals in their own isolated world. The portrait shows a male figure with his breeches pulled down, his projecting butt sticking out from the exact niche where his groin should be-an allegory of a distorted leadership. Her portrait of the Biergarten at Night-which shows a frown faced and distressed persons- further highlights an estranged world of individuals who are spatially coexisting but are self-absorbed.     

In the end, a spirit of liberation descends in her Is it So (2014) canvas. The portrait remains almost pithy and fluid to explain. The canvas shows a top of a head with a widely diverging from each other; then a summit of a different head snuggled between them. A cat rests serenely in the pictorial front as an allegory of contentment. A pile of books in the right which exhibits the popular Sculpture of Picasso and an art catalogue by Ulrike Müller who strongly supports the queer artists in New York suggests that the canvas could be a presentation of her studio. Thus, the entire pictorial could be demonstrating a mystic impression that the world around her may not offer the prerequisite companionship that she can freely obtain from her passion and production of art.


Tia Moreen, traveller, dreamer and blog editor at SaveMyGrade

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How Nicole Eisenman’s Paintings Will Steal Your Heart