Art: Discontents of The White Tribe

Eric Fischl disturbingly paints the hidden life of suburbia

Eric Fischl has become the painter laureate of American anxiety in the '80s. From the moment he exhibited Sleepwalker, 1979, his image of a teenage boy resentfully masturbating in a suburban wading pool, Fischl has zeroed in with unblinking curiosity on the discontents of the White Tribe whose territory stretches from Scarsdale to Anaheim: unreachable kids, grotesque parents, small convulsions of voyeurism and barely concealed incestuous longing.

This is the suburb as failed Eden, noted by two out of three American sociologists and not a few novelists. But Fischl's project is not to embroider cliches on it. Rather he finds images...

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