In Memoriam

July 28, 2021

The School of Art + Design is saddened by the passing of alumna Louise Fishman on Monday, July 26, 2021.

Born in Philadelphia, Louise Fishman studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. After success at both these schools, she went on to receive both a Bachelor of Science and a BFA from the Tyler School of Fine Arts at Temple University in 1963 and her M.F.A. from UIUC in 1965.

Fishman exhibited nationally and internationally in many venues  including the Art Institute of Chicago; the Baltimore Museum of Art, the Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh; the Denver Art Museum; the Jewish Museum; Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein; the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; the Neuberger; the Fogg; the University of Michigan Museum of Art; and the Woodmere in Philadelphia, among many others. She’s represented by the Cheim & Read Gallery in New York.

Krannert Art Museum’s retrospective, “A Question of Emphasis,” which showcases previously unexhibited works on paper and painted books from Fishman’s archive is currently being exhibited from  August 26, 2021 to February 26, 2022.

She received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim, a MacDowell Colony Fellowship, the Creative Artists Public Service Program Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, and a Gottlieb Foundation grant, among others.

Her work has been the subject of articles and reviews in the New York Times, Art in America, the New Yorker, ArtNews, the Brooklyn Rail, and the New York Observer, among others.

Many writers have noted Fishman’s re-defining the masculinist ideologies of abstract expressionist practices for her own purposes, both in service of her painterly innovation, but also personal-as-political practices—a tactic as urgent today—exploring and expounding upon feminist agency, as well as lesbian, queer and Jewish identity and the meaning of memory to history and to the body politic.

Praising Fishman in Art in America, critic Miriam Seidel cites Fishman’s “tough, no-frills approach to abstraction” as “standing apart from any discernable movement, sustained by its own imperatives.”

Critic and historian Jan Avgikos, writing in the Brooklyn Rail in 2017, writes, “We owe Fishman a lot. Over the course of half a century, painting in New York City, she’s legitimately laid claim to more idioms of abstraction than any other painter. She’s adamant in her embrace of gestural abstraction and its potential…no negation, no apologies…However we might choose to respond and to understand the experiences that foreground this work, Fishman’s paintings are radiantly relevant to our times.”

We were fortunate to have Louise give a School of Art & Design Distinguished Alumna lecture on April 22, 2019.

You may share a tribute at, which will be posted on the Art & Design website.

More at and

Arrangements are pending at this time.


photo of Louise Fishman in her SoHo studio in 1970. Looks like Bob Dylan.

Louise Fishman in her SoHo studio, 1970. Photograph by Shirley Davidson.

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