This Eric Fischl just went up at SAM. It's a promised gift from the Wrights, and it's in the place where the pink moose used to be. Quite a change in tone, right? These Fischl paintings—the series is called the Krefeld Project and this is Dining Room Scene 2 (2003), oil on linen, 7 by 10 feet—creep me out. Yes, they're great. They're frightening and cruel and full of symbolism, this one especially: the man, the woman, their fancy art on the wall, all the terrible relationships between them all. No, I don't like them.


There are several big juicy paintings coming to SAM thanks to the gifts that were promised in honor of the new building.

But I only have eyes for one: a great big Edenic-garden picture, swarming with life and color, by Joseph Stella—he of Brooklyn Bridge fame—coming in from collector Barney Ebsworth (who has already given an O'Keeffe and a Hopper). I saw the painting at Ebsworth's house a couple of years ago, and it stopped me in my tracks. It's where futurism, Victorianism, and Eastern spirituality meet.

I asked for an image of it, but it hasn't been photographed, I was told. Then, when I was doing this podcast with SAM American curator Patti Junker, she told me that Stella intended that Edenic garden painting as a diptych with one of his Brooklyn Bridges, and that she means to show it that way eventually, by borrowing it from Ebsworth, and borrowing its intended twin, too, if she can.

That would be an incredible pairing. The divide in Stella between garden and technology, between looking back at the 19th century and looking forward to the 21st (his Brooklyn Bridges are digital visions for sure), is rich territory still today, especially in a mountains-to-Microsoft city like Seattle.

I'm pretty sure that this Stella garden painting, Apotheosis of the Rose (1928), is from that same period (although if memory serves, this one is much tighter in its upside-down-V composition, whereas the SAM promised-gift is a teeming zoo of life positively covering the canvas):


Something to look forward to.