Customer Reviews: Bad Boy: My Life On and Off the Canvas
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on May 15, 2013
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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on June 8, 2013
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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on May 18, 2014
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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on October 31, 2014
This Autobiography seems to be an honest assessment of the artist toward his life and art. He admits mistakes, at least in his life, and tells how his life informs his work. There are excepts at the end of the chapters from his family and friends to let the reader know what their point of view of that time/episode was. This lends more credibility to the book than would otherwise exist, especially when some of the views are divergent from Eric Fischl's, such as his big argument with David Salle. Some parts were a little drawn out, Some things he did were less than admirable, but overall it was a good book, written in a personable style. I really enjoyed it.
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VINE VOICEon June 24, 2015
I'm not a fan of his paintings but I must say, this is quite an excellent memoir. Enjoyed reading his account of his art school experiences and his journey to find a way of painting that made sense to him.

But the most meaningful and memorable part of the book was Fischl's account of his mother. She was an artist but never really worked at it, and eventually succumbed to alcoholism. Fischl writes, in one absolutely brilliant paragraph that is worth the whole book something to the effect that "art is a process and a journey." In order to progress you need to push past all the "voices in your head that tell you how much you suck." His mother could not do that. She was defeated before she began.

Sometimes in a book there is one bit that really bites, and that really sticks. This was it for me.
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on December 2, 2013
I really loved the book "The Greek house" by Christain Brechneff. The writing was wonderful and insightful into the mind of the artist, his relationships with people and his art. When I read the blurb about "Bad Boy", I thought it might be similar.
It's quite a different book but a good read nonetheless. The writing style is very straight forward, and interesting when he gets into what makes an artist, the mind set that is necessary to create good art, and put it on canvas.
When you read the book, its easy to see great artists get to be who they are, and why it's such a grueling process.

What I would have liked to have seen a little more of, is his process dealing with his dysfunctional growing up and some insight into how he was able to translate that insight back into his own psyche after being able to put it down in his art.

Also, he spent a lot of time talking about other artists and where they were in the process of developing their craft. If the reader was an insider to these other artists, it would have been interesting to hear that. But for the rest of us, the author spent too much time with this type of information before getting to the good stuff about his own process, more about the women he had relationships with and how they affected his artistic career and life.

Fischl does a good job in explaining about the effects his individual canvases had on critics and are galleries ,and what his process was in creating the works to begin with. And hearing about his work, made me go on line to see some of his paintings. I did make me wonder how many other artists' work is really about themselves and their lives. It would be interesting, indeed to see what would happen if Fischl was to get to a place where his work was not caught up in his own story and hooked into universal themes that each of us could relate to.

With all that said, worth the read but a little slow going in parts with some great insights into the mind of an artist and the life process he went through to get there.
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on August 13, 2013
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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on March 12, 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Having come along as an artist on a time line slightly behind Fischl, it was interesting all these years later to read about his first hand experiences during the early part of his career. I remember those images from when they were first talked about and I also recall the staggering level of star maker, super status given artists at the time. I found the insights regarding his work and his words on what it is like to be an artist very familiar and very refreshing to read. Well written as well. Very clear. It doesn't hurt that I champion the direction he took as an artist, his faith in representational painting and the brilliant and original results-ditto his wife April Gornik whom I also greatly respect. Taking somewhat guilty pleasure in his critique of Julian Schnabel, Jeff Koons,
and Damien Hurst, I found those passages very entertaining. Clearly his questioning of those artists comes as result of a deep commitment to his work and a clear understanding of theirs and he backs up his grievances with lucid argument. I honestly did not expect to read this and be overly impressed with what he had to say because several of the reviews portrayed him as simply bitter and egotistical and full of himself. He is both of the latter and admits as much with complete honesty which just makes the dialog even more well rounded and my admiration of him even stronger. An excellent bio by an artist, my other favorite after Patti Smith's book published several years ago.
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on July 19, 2013
Eric Fischl has exposed his life and his thoughts and actions in this very revealing book. He is brave and yet still filled with humility. His explanations of the rationale behind many of his works helped me a great deal to understand them. I must admit that I did not "get" many of his paintings in the past..especially his early ones for which he became so famous. His best quality is his enormous sense of drive to make it. The book was easy to read..I could not put it down and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in the psyche of an artist or of any human being going through the trials and tribulations of life in this society. Kudos to Eric for not wanting to be categorized or pigeonholed into the style of art that was popular at the time. After reading his book, I can now understand his work a bit better and I have a new appreciation of him as an individual.
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on January 1, 2016
I have liked Eric Fischl's work since the first time I saw it -- erotic suburban he calls it. He went to CalArts when it was almost illegal to paint in any style but abstract, and his move to find a figurative style of his own is interesting. He rode the crests of the art world in New York, paintings selling for hundreds of thousands a life stoked with alcohol and coke, until it stopped, and he stopped that Manhattan life, moved to the Hamptons and created new styles, including some wonderful sculpture. Best friends are Steve Martin and John McEnroe, unlikely as that sounds -- one of the more enjoyable art books I have come across in the past couple of years.
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