Considering Norman Fisher

May 15, 2013 0 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

A local whose intimation shaped contemporary art by Thony Aiuppy

While it is uncertain the roles in which Fisher played, financial or otherwise, it is undeniable the significance he played in the lived of the artists that participated in such a formidable art space. "The six-story, cast-iron-facade building was owned by Jeffrey Lew, who bought it with Rachel Wood, his wife at the time, as their home and studio. Many artists who gathered there had been cast upon the unpeopled shores of SoHo by the cultural tidal waves of 1968. Gordon Matta-Clark, who helped Mr. Lew open the ground floor and basement as an art gallery, was an architect who had been studying French literature at the Sorbonne. Richard Nonas was an anthropologist who came to art after working in the Mexican desert. Willoughby Sharp had been imbibing Meyer Schapiro’s Marxist modernism at Columbia." [4]

Robert Mapplethorpe, perhaps one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century, is severely indebted to the connecting prowess of Norman Fisher. His rise to stardom was not of his own doing since he was brought into the inner circle [5] that Fisher created in the 1970s through his apartment salon and his savvy demeanor. Mapplethorpe may never have had the access and intimate proximity that he had with such icons as Bowie, Richards, etc., photographing them and exhibiting his works at 112 Greene St. The same can be said for other artists including Cherry Vanilla [6] and Gordon Matta Clark.

Suffice it to say, Fisher was a friend to many of the artists that he came into contact with. Where he say potential and ingenuity, he became open handed in his support financially, emotionally, and critically. On occasion, Fisher would pay rent for artists or supply them with materials to do that next great thing. There are not so many types like him today, or even back then. Living in a sub cultural context necessitates the initiative of the influential. This influence can be seen in the personalized gifts that his artist friends endowed to Fisher, whether singed personally to him as with signed first copies by Ginsberg and Burroughs, or through the giving of preliminary drawing and other materials for larger works. This is an extraordinary collection held by this museum, exemplifying the character of an extraordinary figure in the history of Western Art.

Article by Thony Aiuppy

1. Norman Fisher Catalog, p. 6
2. ibid, p.10
3. Randy Kennedy. "When SoHo Was Young ‘112 Greene Street: The Early Years,’ ’70s Art in SoHo." New York Times.
4. Ibid.
5. Patricia Morrisoe. Mapplethorpe:A Biography.
6. Cherry Vanilla. Lick Me:How I Became Cherry Vanilla.

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