Edward Fisk: Legacies

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Join us in celebrating the art and life of the American modernist Edward Fisk, who left New York City in September 1926 for a more peaceful life in Lexington and a teaching position at the University of Kentucky. In Greenwich Village and Provincetown, Massachusetts, Fisk was at the heart of the Bohemian art scene from about 1914 to the mid-1920s. Among his close friends were the avant-garde playwright Eugene O’Neill and his literary cadre, as well as the modernist artists Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and Stuart Davis, with whom he exhibited. 

This exhibition marks the generous donation by the Fisk family of forty paintings, watercolors, prints, and drawings. Together with a 1998 gift of fifteen artworks by the artist’s children, it creates a significant archive of his art, representing a wide range of media and subject matter. 

A skilled draughtsman, Fisk instructed his students in the beauty of Renaissance art, the soulfulness of Rembrandt, and the classical purity of Greek antiquity. Yet, his own work was influenced by a range of American and European modern art movements ranging from Post-Impressionism to the expressive realism of the American Ashcan school. 

The artist’s stylistic choices seem determined by subject matter. Woman in a Red Hat demonstrates the expressive brushstrokes and closely cropped compositions of his portraits, a legacy of his studies with Robert Henri, whose work often featured the working classes and people of color. Landscape paintings from Vermont or drawings of the Italian countryside demonstrate his interest in the intersecting planes of Cubism and structuralism of Cezanne. After he moved to Lexington, Fisk had the time and resources to develop his skill in and knowledge of printmaking, from the graphic quality found in linocut prints of streets scenes to the finely modulated tones of mezzotint featuring a Cornish harbor he visited on sabbatical. 

The Museum is indebted to the Fisk family, and in particular to the artist’s children, Allie Hendricks and the late Milton Fisk, along with their children, who have parted with a bit of their family legacy to ensure Edward Fisk’s artistic legacy. 

IMAGE: Edward Fisk, Woman in a Red Hat, 1921, (detail), oil on canvas. Courtesy of the family of Edward Fisk.

Created 04/21/2023
Last Updated 01/12/2024