What: Words and Pictures, an exhibition of paintings and sculptures by UNT Regents Professor of Art Emeritus Vernon Fisher
When: Oct. 8 (Tuesday)-Dec. 7 (Saturday). Opening reception is from 1-3 p.m. Oct. 11 (Friday). Exhibition tour at 2 p.m. Oct. 12 (Saturday).
Where: UNT Art Gallery, Art 160, 1201 W. Mulberry St., Denton
The works of Vernon Fisher, one of the leaders of post-modern painting, will be on display at the University of North Texas, where he taught for 28 years.
The exhibition is sponsored by the Mary Jo and V. Lane Rawlins Fine Arts Series, the College of Visual Arts and Design and a grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts.
Words and Pictures covers the paintings and sculptures of Fisher, UNT Regents Professor of Art Emeritus, from 1980 to 2019. Fisher’s works came of age at the dawning of post-modernism, as a group of artists transitioned from abstract expression to post-modern irreverence, humor and representation.
In his early years, Fisher didn’t use figures. But he later added the texts of short stories he wrote on top of photographic images, which evolved into the mix of imagery we see today, said the show’s curator Tracee Robertson, a former director of the UNT Art Galleries.
“The works have a harmony in their compositions,” said Robertson, who is now director of the Wichita Falls Museum of Art at Midwestern State University Texas. “The works are very complex visually, with subjects that don’t make sense together. You have to view the works not from the mind, but from the emotions.”
Fisher, who taught at UNT from 1978 to 2006, features cartoons characters such as Mickey Mouse and Olive Oyl, landscape vignettes, maps and grids, and words in his works.
In American Landscape, on loan from the Ackerley Collection in Houston, the back of Bugs Bunny stands in silhouette, with his back facing the audience, in a barren landscape with a building and a few trees. The sky is an ominous orange. But the cartoon character’s ears, the trees and their shadows are in a triangle shape.
“The repetition of that simple shape creates a harmony that is beautiful and restful despite what is going on in the painting,” Robertson said. “The encounter with a Fisher painting is a shift from your mind to your heart. The rest of visual harmony gives you confidence to stay with the paintings. These works make you ask, What does life feel like here?”
Fisher’s work has been on display at The Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; and the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas.
The exhibition also celebrates the grand opening of the integrated Art Building for the College of Visual Arts and Design.