Nicole Eisenman
December 2, 1994 – January 15, 1995

Walter/McBean Gallery
San Francisco Art Institute
800 Chestnut Street, S.F. CA 94113

Nicole Eisenman, whose neoclassical wall paintings incorporate subversive imagery, is a superb draftsman. In all of her work, she uses her technical skill to convey messages of social concern, and these messages are suffused with humor, ridicule, irony, and often violence. She takes cues not only from classical and neoclassical art, but also such disparate sources as Marc Chagall, Norman Rockwell, Delacroix, Titian, and the turn-of-the-century New York Ashcan School. She has also absorbed styles derived from comic books, television, pornography and images from pop culture. Often breaking taboos, she confounds our expectations by dressing powerful, nightmarish messages in comfortably familiar art historical and popular guises, and wrapping them in a biting humor.

In a recent review in The New York Times, Holland Cotter called Eisenman’s April exhibition at the Jack Tilton Gallery in New York “. . . among the smartest, funniest, most inventive solo exhibitions of the season. . . . [Eisenman’s] mini-narratives, visual puns and mythological burlesques, executed in a fluid draftsmanly style, bring Reginald Marsh and comic-book fantasy together. . . . They’re all part of the show in which provocative ideas go whizzing by at every turn and where confrontation and humor — surely a subversive strategy — meet in audacious combinations.”

Born in 1965, Nicole Eisenman received a BFA in 1987 from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has exhibited her work widely, including recent solo exhibitions at Jack Tilton Gallery in New York and the Shoshana Wayne Gallery in Santa Monica. Eisenman has participated in numerous group exhibitions, including the recent shows Identity: The Logic of Appearance, curated by Shoshana Blank, at the Galerie Krinzinger, Vienna; Bad Girls at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; The Seventh Wave, curated by Stephen Foster, at the John Hansard Gallery, South Hampton, England; Arrested Childhood, curated by Bonnie Clearwater, at the Center for Contemporary Art in Miami; and 1920 at Exit Art, New York. Her work was shown in the 1995 Whitney Biennial.


“Her drawing style is reminiscent of the WPA and artists such as Thomas Hart Benton, Reginald Mangold and Paul Cadmus, but hers is a complexity that belies its accessibility.” -Arnold J. Kemp
An on-line exhibition of Nicole Eisenman’s work at Queer Arts Resource

“Humor is an inlet. You can seduce people with it and make them happy, and then you can sort of slap them across the face and say, ‘Look again.’ Humor brings people into a piece, and then they’ll scratch their head and think ‘Wow, what am I laughing at? Maybe this is really not so funny.'” -1997
Intallation at Jack Tilton Gallery

a review of the 1996-97 show at the Jack Tilton Gallery
nicole eisenman at jack tilton gallery
by Meghan Dailey

Nicole Eisenman at Leo Konig
Nicole Eisenman’s new painting, Progress: Real and Imagined is heroic, both operatic in scope and monumental in scale.
“One final observation. “Progress: Real and Imagined” is also complex in its stylistic resolution. Eisenman’s painting, firmly structured, runs the stylistic gauntlet from the sweeping to the intimate. The little “throwaway” pictures in the studio are fully resolved in their own right. Her painterliness traverses a range from cursory to crusty congealed passages. It is obvious these variations are by choice, not constraint, for her observational powers are keen as seen in the rendering of the jeans of the artist at work. By expanding her range of execution, she in effect, detaches it from “style” and allows it to function as a tool of expression.”