Aaron Payne Fine Art is pleased to present a retrospective exhibition of the work of Margaret Fisher (1898-‐ 1990). This exhibition will feature work from her earliest modernist watercolors done in the late 1920s on Cape Cod, near Provincetown, to her later small scale abstract works on paper which she made from 1941 through the 1950s. Also included will be several of her rare Santa Fe watercolors and one oil from her two brief trips to New Mexico in 1927 and 1936.
Margaret Fisher was a modernist painter, patron of the arts, and lifelong native of Chicago. She was a master of gesture and line, and her drawings and paintings remain fresh and dynamic today.
Her father was Secretary of Interior under President Taft and the family traveled extensively. She was exposed to great art during these trips abroad, and following her graduation from the University of Wisconsin, Fisher began various studies in painting and sculpture. In 1923 she took courses at the Art Institute of Chicago. In 1924 she attended summer classes in Gloucester and Provincetown, and later that year, she studied drawing under Boardman Robinson at The Art Students League in New York.
In 1927 she made a trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico to witness the Indian Dance Festival there, and returned in 1936 to spend time with the writer Alice Corbin, her husband William Penhallow Henderson, and her friend Mabel Dodge. Back at home on the family’s estate in Hubbard Woods, Winnetka, Fisher frequently painted with neighbors Norman MacLeish and Fairfield Porter.
In 1938 she began to look for gallery representation and had a one-‐woman show at the Quest Galleries, Chicago, in December of that year. She decided to try her luck in New York and approached several dealers, including Alfred Stieglitz who showed the work to his friend, Duncan Phillips. Fisher’s bold watercolors were quickly recognized for their strong line, sense of color, and composition. Several of the New Mexican watercolors formed part of a one-‐artist show arranged by Duncan Phillips in 1939 at the Phillips Collection in Washington D.C. Mr. Phillips purchased one of the New Mexico pieces.
In 1941 Fisher began to experiment with abstraction and throughout the 1940s and 1950s produced small, whimsical mixed media works on paper. It is in these small compositions that Fisher’s true voice is heard. The works of the 40s and 50s are an intimate experience, a personal conversation between viewer and artist. As Agnes Mongan, Curator of Drawings at the Fogg Museum wrote: “The lively and highly varied compositions reveal wit, energy, discovery, control, and intelligence.”
Fisher’s contribution to American Modernism is quickly becoming recognized by a wider audience. Her work is now owned by the Art Institute of Chicago; Fogg Museum, Harvard University; Museum of Fine Arts, Houston; Museum of Fine Arts, Santa Fe; the DeYoung Museum of Art, San Francisco, The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., and is also in many private collections.
Aaron Payne Fine Art is the exclusive representative of the Estate of Margaret Fisher.
This exhibition focuses on the intimate, small-‐scale works on paper from the 1940s and 1950s. In looking at them one can only agree with the late Sir Herbert Read who wrote "the greatest truth was ever spoken in a still small voice!"
(Images: Margaret Fisher, Untitled Abstraction #1937 , Watercolor, Wash & Gouache on Paper, h: 8 x w: 6.5 in ; New Mexico Landscape , circa 1927 , Oil on canvas , h: 20.8 x w: 27 in; Untitled Abstraction #3698 , Watercolor on Paper , h: 10.6 x w: 13.8 in; Courtesy of Aaron Payne Fine Art)