During this special conversation between artist Nicole Eisenman and Massimiliano Gioni, Artistic Director of the New Museum, the pair discussed “Nicole Eisenman: Al-ugh-ories,” the first New York museum survey exhibition of Eisenman’s work, which was presented at the New Museum. The show provided an in-depth look at the symbolic nature of the artist’s most striking depictions of individuals and groups—from intimate portraits to more complex narrative scenes—and highlighted how allegory permeates Eisenman’s oeuvre as she fluidly ties the fictional to the autobiographical and the past to the present.
One of the most important painters of her generation, Eisenman has developed a distinct figurative language that combines the imaginative with the lucid, the absurd with the banal, and the stereotypical with the countercultural and queer. From the outset of her career, Eisenman’s investment in painting has led to frequent experimentation in other mediums, and her practice is characterized by visible shifts that mark her effort never to become too comfortable with any one approach to painting. Eisenman’s preoccupation with the figure and the complexity of its gestures and form has resulted in mesmerizing portraits of an array of characters who range from friends and fellow New Yorkers, to imagined heroines, to tragic losers.