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Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas Hardcover – May 7, 2013


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Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas + Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews + What Art Is
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Crown (May 7, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0770435572
  • ISBN-13: 978-0770435578
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.6 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

How much fame does it take to stop an artist from working in top form? How much pain does it take to keep an artist going? Controversial painter and sculptor Fischl addresses these questions with almost masochistic honesty in this revealing memoir. While chronicling his upbringing in a troubled family savaged by his mother’s suicidal alcoholism and his highs and lows in the shifting New York art scene of the 1970s and 1980s, Fischl offers raw confessions of the emotional hardships that drove his life as a professional artist along with revelations about his own evolving creative ethos. As with his acclaimed and notoriously provocative portraits, Fischl’s self-portrait draws its best energies from exhibition and confrontation as he pulls no punches in depicting his experiences as a gritty bohemian and upscale urbanite. Fischl’s look back is equally absorbing as an insider’s chronicle of the late twentieth-century art world’s booms and busts. Complementing each chapter are commentaries from Fischl’s friends, mentors, and lovers; the result is a remarkably objective warts-and-all memoir. --Greg Baldino

Review

“Fischl is entertaining company. The same obervational frankness that imbues his paintings makes this a brave and candid book. It's also, in many ways, a painful book: he's such a deft portraitist that he captures himself at his most unknowing, wounded, prideful and self-contradictory...Occasionally vain, occasionally score-settling, it's as unsparing as the aging Rembrant's blunt self-portraits.” -New York Times Book Review

"Given Fischl's aptitude for telling stories as a painter, it probably shouldn't be a surprise that Bad Boy, a memoir that covers his life from his earliest years to the present, is so engaging. The book, which takes its name from a celebrated 1981 painting of Fischl's that shows a boy facing a naked woman in a bedroom, is unusual among the writings of artists in its novelistic drive and readability...folding painful family memories into accounts of the artist's years in high school, his experiences with girlfriends and teachers, and the art scene he began encountering in New York in the late 1970s." -New York Review of Books

“At once a confessional and a manifesto…Will move readers with its tales of a fraught life in art.” -Wall Street Journal

"A sharp critique of the art world's recent evolution" -Los Angeles Times

One of Jeanette Winterson’s picks for the season’s most arresting personal stories –O Magazine


“Must-read for culture vultures.” –New York Post

"Captivatingly written." -Huffington Post

"A clear-eyed account of the art world’s profound transformations over the past 30 or so years, told by an artist whose career perfectly maps that period." -The New York Observer

"...will probably stand as one of the more revealing documents about the late 20th-century art world.” -ARTnews

"A uniquely intimate account of big-time art in [the 1980s]." -National Post

"Editor's Choice" -Buffalo News

"An in depth look at the life of America's foremost narrative painter Eric Fischl." -Hamptons.com

"[Fischl] pulls no punches in depicting his experiences as a gritty bohemian and upscale urbanite...Equally absorbing as an insider's chronicle of the late twentieth-century art world's booms and busts." -Booklist

"A brave and beautiful book about the difficulties of practicing as a painter in America, and a reminder of how essential the courage of the pursuit of a personal vision is to art."
–Adam Gopnik, staff writer, the New Yorker, author of Paris to the Moon
 
“Erich Fischl’s Bad Boy is powerful and important: emotionally incisive, brilliantly well-crafted, and completely authentic.  In short, it is just like his art.”
–Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, Pulitzer Prize-winning authors of Jackson Pollock and Van Gogh: The Life
 
“Soo good, so incredibly honest, vulnerable, real, moving, compassionate; an incredible document of a man's life, an artist’s development and a particular moment in time…the best artist-memoir I've ever read.”
–A.M. Homes, author of The End of Alice and May We Be Forgiven
 
"Eric Fischl’s Bad Boy is a thoughtful, honest, revealing—and frequently moving—memoir of a life in art."
–Francine Prose, president of PEN American Center
 
"Only an artist of Eric Fisch's intellect, resilience and wit could have survived his dreadful childhood, conquered a nearly fatal addiction to booze and cocaine, salvaged his marriage to the marvelous painter April Gornik, and written this compulsively riveting book."
–Francine du Plessix Gray, Pulitzer Prize-nominated writer and literary critic
 
“As Eric relates across this absorbing chronicle, the ongoing quest for authenticity amidst the thralls of dysfunction would come to constitute one of his primary themes…And as in his art, so here in his writing, he does so with vivid, striking and memorable dispatch.”
–Lawrence Weschler, Seeing is Forgetting the Name of the Thing One Sees and Uncanny Valley: Adventures in the Narrative

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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I highly recommend this read for any and all lovers of the visual arts.
g3
Thank you, Eric, for writing such an honest and engrossing book about the process of life and painting.
sam mcbride
Reading this book was like having him with you as you looked at his work.
ma2one

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bob Clyatt on May 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought the book after seeing the WSJ and FT reviews and have to say it is a great artist's read. I am particularly drawn in by his description of what it's like to be an artist swimming against the tide, finding your unique contribution and voice, navigating the creative tsunami. It is very hard to find this process discussed well by a successful artist. His writing is razor-sharp insightful. Either it's great editing, great thinking on his part or some combination of both but I highly recommend this book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Page H. Thompson on June 8, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This book, like Steve Martin's excellent "An Object of Beauty", reinvigorated my interest in art and painting while simultaneously highlighting issues in the "art market". The book made me appreciate some of my favorite Eric Fischl paintings like "Bad Boy" or "A Woman Posessed" even more. I thought his takes on the YBA artists and on some of the great Italian masters were right on the mark. I found the earlier part of the book to be more interesting - gripping actually - as he described the long process of coming to a realization of what kind of artist he was. While his current life and celebrity friends are moderately interesting, the second half of the book lacks the urgency, commitment, and struggle of the first.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. Indoe on June 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Intrigued by the WSJ review of this book, I downloaded it to my Kindle and virtually could not put it down. The chronological narrative is expertly written and literally seduces the reader to continue. The author is brutally honest about his strengths and weaknesses. He describes his relationships with family members, teachers, students, gallery owners, artists and friends. We learn what inspires him and how a painting or sculpture emerges from a concept to become a finished work of art. We share his triumphs and defeats, his successes and disappointments. After reading Keith Richards's autobiography Life, I understand how the Rolling Stones produce a recording. Bad Boy gives me the same grasp of how a brilliant artist works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Laurel Macdonald on August 13, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It's hard to write a memoir without coming across as a self-absorbed, narcissistic blowhard. But Eric Fischl has a few things going for him. First of all, he had a bipolar mother who gave him subject material for a life-time. Mama' nudity surfaces again and again in his paintings and creates a background for an adolescent's psychological and emotional chaos. And these themes translate into
terrific art. The rawness of his emotions appears frequently in his early paintings and is mirrored by the crudeness of his brush.

The giant beach scenes are also memorable. His brush becomes more confident and his subject matter less personal but still we recognize the awkwardness, the insecurity, and the conflicts. Eric creates narratives that we can all understand.

His development from awkward and confused son to ambitious, successful artist makes a good story. He tells it well and honestly. But then came the fall. His painting became slick, his subject matter exotic, his words defensive. He tries to persuade us that figurative art is the most important art; that all other art fails in comparison. Unfortunately, his later paintings undercut his argument. They're too slick, too professional, redundant. And redundant describes the last chapters of his book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peter Woodrow on May 27, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Such a good book. The artist doesn't seem to hold much back either in his work methods or personal life. Use of photography in figurative work especially interesting.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Leigh barbier on May 18, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have always admired Eric Fischl's narrative and figurative paintings, so I entered the book with an open mind. What I was surprised by was how generous his writing is. He wasn't hiding behind anything. For someone like me, an artist in San Francisco who both puts the NY art world on a pedestal and resents it's exclusive attitude I found it highly entertaining and pleasurable to see inside this world through his eyes. I also really enjoyed his accounting of finding his own style and themes both technically and emotionally. He is a very lucky man ,not just because he has been a financially and critically successful artist but because he is surrounded by a warm and supportive community.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Philip Hewitt on April 1, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I thought Mr. Fischl was very honest and open about his career in the fine art field. Great information about the way things work in that business. It made me think about the way I work. I think any serious artist should at least read this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Helen Deramus on September 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I enjoyed the forthright approach to the practice of art from this artist and found his seeming honesty to be refreshing. Good read.
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