I stumbled across this podcast the other day and I think you’ll enjoy the conversation between Alec Baldwin and artist Eric Fischl. Although Baldwin is the kind of interviewer that will inject himself into the conversation (as if to say “Don’t forget, I’m important and have smart things to say too”) I can’t help but like him, and I think his perspective as a performer leads him to ask Fischl some interesting questions that another interviewer might not.
Some interesting exchanges from the interview:
Alec Baldwin: Have you ever done a painting and you were mistaken, meaning you did a painting – and I’m being very melodramatic – you did a painting and you were done and you said, ‘Good God, Fischl, you’ve done it. There it is. There you have it.’ And the painting did not succeed in one term, and other times you sat there and said the opposite. You said, ‘This is a piece of crap,’ and it was one of your more successful paintings. Has that happened?
Eric Fischl: Not in the extreme, but I’ve certainly done paintings that I thought were better than they were received. And I’ve certainly had the experience where I’ve seen paintings that I didn’t think were so good when I did them, and see them ten years later and go, ‘You know that actually isn’t that bad.’
Eric Fischl: Yeah, I don’t understand why people don’t have a space in their life where they don’t do what they normally do, you know? Like, if you’re a hedge funder or some financial guy, why do you have to turn everything into a transaction?
Alec Baldwin: Monetizing.
Eric Fischl: Why do you have to monetize? Why isn’t there this one place where you do something just for yourself?
Alec Baldwin: And what about your own work? Have you finished a painting and you said, ‘That’s for me.’
Eric Fischl: Yeah, yeah.
Alec Baldwin: So your own work hangs.
Eric Fischl: The older I get, the more I do that. Yeah.
Alec Baldwin: ‘I’ll keep this one.’
Eric Fischl: Early on, I couldn’t afford it. And let some of my best work go.
Alec Baldwin: Fly out the window.
Eric Fischl: Yeah, exactly. Now I’m a little bit more precious about that and part of it is the love doesn’t come back in the way you need it to come back. The exchange is not – it doesn’t really work in the way you want it to, which is to say, I make a painting out of love, right? And a profound love, which includes respect, admiration, desire, need, all of the things that go into being a human, wanting to communicate to another human, and connect to another human. I call that love.
And so I make a painting out of love. And I’m seeking love in return. I want that to come back in that way, right? So somebody gives you money, right, which on one hand, you think, ‘Well, that’s an expression of love. They want to possess your work.’ So they’re expressing love, but money doesn’t feel like love because is a neutral currency. Now I have to change that money into something that tells me how much love I just got back, right?
Alec Baldwin: How do you do that?
Eric Fischl: Exactly. That’s where the issue is.
Photo Credit: Eric Fischl, Mary Boone Gallery, NY, NY