Joel Fisher

Salem , Ohio , USA
1947

Joel Fisher lives and works on the coast of North East England and on a dirt road in North Vermont. He has lived in New York, London, Paris and Berlin. In each case he returned later to live that city again. He studied at Kenyon College in Ohio and earned a PHD from Sunderland University. He has received a number of prestigious awards including a Watson Travelling Fellowship, a DAAD Berlin Stipendium, A Guggenheim Fellowship, A Howard Foundation Grant, and many others.

Before he became a sculptor, Fisher worked in two-dimensions, and says that the biggest surprise as his work evolved was to discover that fingertips are more sensitive than eyesight. He also learned that when something is two-dimensional it can be fully comprehended from a single point of view, but as soon as it becomes three-dimensional it is necessary to gather information from several different approaches and synthesize them.

Many of his sculptures come from a responsive drawing he calls an Apograph, in which a fragile configuration is copied on the paper on which it was found. When this shape is chosen as the inspiration for a sculpture, this blank graphic symbol begins its passage toward permanence and weight. A two-dimensional drawing translated into three dimensions has to be assessed differently, especially when constructing a new object involves a physical engagement with a new substance. A sculpture happens when the once fragile form takes up residence, and adapts. The form has to put on clothing appropriate for that new context. Much of this work is about preserving what is at risk during that transition. It is thrilling to watch how something that is inherently vulnerable moves toward permanence and weight. Seed (whose nickname, Egg Man, seems to be more persistent than its real name) is such a sculpture. There are two versions of this work, and even though they both follow the inspiration of the same source Apograph, they deal with different sculptural experiences.

Fisher’s work is in public collections in several countries, including Kunstmuseum Bern; Kunstmuseum Luzern; The Malmö Museum; Center Georges Pompidou, Paris; Stadisches Museum, Mönchengladbach; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, London; another casting of this sculpture is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.