Woodmere Art Museum presents internationally renowned painter Louise Fishman and Murray Dessne. A Retrospective

PHILADELPHIA — Exploring one critically acclaimed artist’s extraordinary body of work and the familial inspiration that made it so, Woodmere Art Museum presents Generations: Louise Fishman, Gertrude Fisher-Fishman, and Razel Kapustin. On view October 13, 2012–January 6, 2013, Generations juxtaposes Fishman’s expressionist oeuvre with the work of her two powerful mentors: her mother, Gertrude Fisher-Fishman, and her aunt Razel Kapustin. Key pieces by the three artists with roots in Philadelphia, each of whom is represented in Woodmere’s permanent collection, will be shown together, underscoring the pictorial, philosophical and emotive relationships among three distinct artistic voices.

Dartmouth Quartet by Louise Fishman

Also on display at Woodmere, the paintings of legendary Philadelphia artist and teacher Murray Dessner are recognized for their directness and beauty — ethereal and mesmerizing, rich in color, bold and dynamic. Murray Dessner: A Retrospective will be the first exhibition to survey the major achievements of Dessner’s career, and will include important paintings from Woodmere’s collection as well as the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and many distinguished private collections across Philadelphia and the region.

“Louise Fishman enjoys great distinction internationally as an abstract painter and voice for contemporary feminism, and her prime inspiration has been the work of her mother, Gertrude Fisher-Fishman, and her aunt Razel Kapustin, who were artists of Philadelphia with solid careers in their lifetimes, but whose achievements are little known,” says William R. Valerio, the Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO of Woodmere and curator of the Museum’s fall exhibitions. “Meanwhile, Murray Dessner, who has been one of the anchors of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts for decades, draws inspiration from the artists of Venice — Titian, Veronese, and Tintoretto — and I would suggest that you have to travel to Italy to experience art with the same kind of transcendent beauty.”

These exhibitions are accompanied by a series of discussions, lectures and tours (a full calendar of events follows below), as well as the student exhibitions Creations from Young Artists: William Penn Charter Lower School (Sept. 9-Oct. 21) and Kids Care 19: Fairy Tales and Fables (Nov. 4-Dec. 16) in the Helen Millard Children’s Gallery. In addition, the spring 2011 Woodmere exhibition Violet Oakley and the Women Artists of Parisis on view in Harrisburg in the Governor’s Residence (through January 27, 2013).

Woodmere Art Museum is located at 9201 Germantown Avenue. Admission to special exhibitions is $10 for adults, $7 for seniors, and FREE for students, children and Museum members; exhibitions in the Founder’s Gallery and Helen Millard Children’s Gallery are FREE. (Beginning September 8, Woodmere will offer free admission on Sundays, including all special exhibitions, but excluding special events such as Classic Sundays.)Museum hours are: Tuesday through Thursday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Friday, 10 a.m.–8:45 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m.; and Sunday, 10 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, visit woodmereartmuseum.org or call 215-247-0476.


Fishman, a noted feminist, is an internationally renowned abstract painter who was born and raised in Philadelphia and trained at Tyler School of Art. Razel Kapustin and Gertrude Fisher-Fishman lived and worked in Philadelphia throughout their careers, with deep institutional relationships and participation in exhibitions across the city; Kapustin worked with the great Mexican muralist David Siqueros, bringing the political directness of Mexican modernism to Philadelphia.

Fishman’s feminism and engagement with Jewish mysticism, as well as her abstract interpretations of the geometric grid and calligraphic gesture, will be highlighted in Woodmere’s exhibition. Generations will also demonstrate the context of her two powerful mentors — from the inspiration of Kapustin’s politically charged narrative scenes to Fisher-Fishman’s penetrating abstractions — whose work Fishman’s oeuvre directly and indirectly recalls. Selected juxtapositions of the works of the three artists will underscore a shared pioneering use of non-traditional materials, processes and subjects.

Louise Fishman’s work will also be shown concurrently at two exhibitions in New York City: Louise Fishman: Five Decades at Jack Tilton Gallery (opening Sept. 5) and New Paintings in Chelseaat Cheim & Read (opening Sept. 13).


Born in 1934 in South Philadelphia, Dessner discovered his artistic calling when taking classes at the Samuel S. Fleisher Art Memorial; he attended the Certificate Program of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts from 1962 to 1965. This year, Dessner retired from a celebrated 40-year tenure at the Academy.

The exhibition Murray Dessner: A Retrospective will include large-scale works of art that mark the significant phases of Dessner’s career, including hard-edged abstractions of the late 1960s and early 1970s; vigorous poured paintings of the 1970s; mysterious Venice- and Greece-inspired paintings of the 1980s; figurative “memoir” paintings of the early 1990s; and the mystical atmospheric paintings that have been his focus from the mid-1990s to the present. The exhibition will be accompanied by a catalogue that will include a broad-ranging interview about art and life with Dessner and a chronology of the artist’s career.


Generations: Louise Fishman, Gertrude Fisher-Fishman, and Razel Kapustin
Murray Dessner: A Retrospective
October 13, 2012–January 6, 2013
Open House: Saturday, November 10 | 1–4 p.m. | FREE

Creations from Young Artists: William Penn Charter Lower School
Helen Millard Children’s Gallery
September 9–October 21
Reception: Sunday, September 16, 2–4 p.m.

These student works demonstrate the rewards of learning to draw from both observation and one’s imagination. The artwork was created using a variety of techniques and mediums, including printmaking, wood sculpture, clay sculpture, painting and drawing.

Kids Care 19: Fairy Tales and Fables
Helen Millard Children’s Gallery
November 4–December 16, 2012
Reception: Saturday, December 15, 2–4 p.m.

Beautiful artworks made by hundreds of children from the Philadelphia region will be on view in this collaborative project of Woodmere Art Museum, WXPN’s Kids Corner and St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children. All works will be wrapped and delivered to sick children as holiday gifts.

Violet Oakley and the Women Artists of Paris
Governor’s Residence, Harrisburg, PA
Through January 27, 2013

Originally on view at Woodmere in spring 2011, Violet Oakley and the Women Artists of Paris offers the opportunity to enjoy art that Oakley — who lived in Chestnut Hill — made as a young woman in Paris and beyond, and to consider the relationships between her work and that of other artists she encountered in the City of Lights.

Lectures and Gallery Talks:

Gallery Tour: Generations
Saturday, October 13, 3–4 p.m., FREE
Get a first look at Woodmere’s exhibition of work by Louise Fishman, Gertrude Fisher-Fishman and Razel Kapustin. The tour, led by Robert L. McNeil Jr. Curator of Education Pamela Birmingham, will explore key pieces by the three artists, underscoring the relationships among their distinct artistic voices.

Gallery Talk: Harmony and Invention in the Art of Murray Dessner
Saturday, October 27, 3–4 p.m., $15 ($10 for members)
Described as an “abstract impressionist,” Murray Dessner makes paintings that revel in beauty, sublimity and insight. Join artist Richard Ranck for an intimate look at the work and career of his friend and colleague. A painter and sculptor whose career spans four decades, Ranck is a graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts and is represented by Rosenfeld Gallery in Philadelphia.

Generations: Influence, Experience, Identity
Saturday, November 3, 3–4 p.m., $15 ($10 for members)
Louise Fishman’s penetrating abstractions are physical, experiential and powerful, incorporating deeply internalized personal, political and aesthetic ideas. Join the artist as she talks about her career and the relationships between her art and the work of her two powerful mentors: her mother, Gertrude Fisher-Fishman, and her aunt, Razel Kapustin.

From Landscape to Abstraction: Two Generations of Painters Respond to the American Experience
Thursday, November 8, 2–3:30 p.m., $15 ($10 for members)
Join Museum docent Flo Gelo for a tour of light-filled canvases celebrating the Hudson River School’s American wilderness and learn about the work of two generations of artists — mother, aunt and daughter — whose paintings were inspired by social movements and the upheavals of war.

Powerful Voices: Women and Art, 1950 to the Present
Saturday, November 17, 3-4 p.m., $15 ($10 for members)
Art in the United States at mid-century is often equated with Abstract Expressionism and the male art stars who dominated the critical and commercial art world of the time. This era also saw the emergence of strong women artists who in many ways offered a more varied and layered consideration of abstraction. This lecture, led by Jennifer Zarro, Ph.D., will present a survey of some mid-century women artists who deserve equal dominance in the discussions of the art of the U.S.: Louise Fishman, Lee Krasner, Helen Frankenthaler, Eva Hesse, Alice Neel and others.

The Art of Looking: Abstraction
Thursday, November 29, 12:30–1:30 p.m., FREE
Join Robert L. McNeil Jr. Curator of Education Pamela Birmingham for this one-hour facilitated gallery discussion for an in-depth look at the work of Murray Dessner, Louise Fishman and other abstract artists represented in Woodmere’s permanent collection.

Information on additional lectures and gallery talks to be announced. Preregistration is suggested for all programs; for more information, call 215-247-0476 or visit woodmereartmuseum.org.