Beverly Fishman is a Philadelphia-born, Detroit-based visual artist. Her colourful geometric abstractions draw upon the visual language of technology, science, medicine, and the pharmaceutical industry.Read More
Graduating with a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1977, Fishman went on to complete an MFA at Yale University, where she was taught by Elizabeth Murray and Judy Pfaff. Early in her career, the artist made many swirling abstractions on paper, a medium she returned to in later works. She also made intricate, abstract paintings—including those in the 'Dividose' series (2005–2012)—that evoke the linear visual patterns of medical imaging devices.
Fishman's most consistent hallmarks throughout her career have been her 'Pills'. Inspiration for these sculptures comes from the many pharmaceuticals available today. From this semi-abstract visual catalogue, sourced online, the artist industrially designs and constructs sculptures. She utilises materials including blown glass, aluminium, chrome and urethane automotive paint, resin, mirrored Plexiglas, and powder-coated metals.
Initially, Fishman's 'Pill's took the very literal figurative form of familiar pills, like those in the 'Drugstores Series' (2000–2008) and Pill Spill (2011). These works developed into subtler representations such as Untitled (Diabetes) (2015), Untitled (opioid addiction, one empty tablet) (2019): colourful geometric abstractions composed of curved rectangular and circular shapes based on particular pharmaceutical products.
In Beverly Fishman's interview with Jason Stopa for Art in America in 2017, she stated 'I work with abstract forms that I do not view as abstract.' Through the shapes of these pills, the artist connects the formal concerns of high Modernism with highly personal issues, such as the struggles of opioid addiction, anxiety, depression, and attention deficit disorder.
Beverly Fishman has exported her distinctive visual forms to a larger format several times for large-scale public art projects, including Rise (2018), for which the artist painted her colourful geometric capsules across the facade of the Detroit City Club Apartments. The artist's work can also be found in public collections such as the Detroit Institute of Arts, Istanbul Art Centre, and Miami Art Museum.
As well as being a practicing artist, Fishman was an artist-in-residence and head of painting at Cranbrook Academy of Art from 1992 to 2019.
DOSE, CUE Art Foundation, New York (2017); In Sickness and In Health, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia (2015); Pill Spill, Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio (2011); Chromo-ecstasy, Artis Causa Gallery, Thessaloniki, Greece (2008); Breaking the Code, John J. McDonough Museum of Art, Youngstown, Ohio (1996); Drawings, Paintings and Sculpture, Housatonic Museum of Art, Bridgeport, Connecticut (1985).
Double-Edged: Geometric Abstraction Then and Now, Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina (2019); A Dazzling Decade, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Overland Park, Kansas (2017); Ceremonial Exhibition, American Academy of Arts and Letters, New York (2010); Post-Digital Painting, Cranbrook Art Museum, Michigan (2002); Interventions, Detroit Institute of Arts (1995); Artists from Yale, London Institute (1989).
Michael Irwin | Ocula | 2020