Isabel Bishop’s people are what they are no more, no less.
But they are very much what they are--they never are what they are not.
Isabel Bishop looks at the world through poetic, lonely veils that touch our sensibilities. Her themes are real enough —people walking on the street, in subway stations—people dressing , or undressing—all mundane, sometimes banal subjects. She transformed such familiar scenes into subtle dramas in which light, composition and mood combine to produce an entry into a very private, very ambiguous vision.
John Gruen - World Journal Tribune, 1967
Females “Mobility in Life”
Isabel Bishop’s females are noted for a sensitive modeling of form and a submarine pearliness and density of atmosphere. The thing she feels about the working girls and tries to communicate in her paintings, she says is their “mobility in life,” the very fact that they do not belong irrevocably to a certain class, that anything may happen to them.-
Karl Lunde, - Isabel Bishop- 1975
I have come to think that walking is absolutely beautiful, and I could not tell you why... I was struck by the beauty, drama, and miraculous effects of a crowd of people in motion. It seemed magical. It seemed as though the movement involved more than I could take in with my eyes because the air became solid . - Isabel Bishop
Paul Tillich’s in an essay on seeing said:” We never see only what we see; we always see something else with it and through it! ...With and through colors and forms and movements we see friendliness and coldness, hostility and devotion, anger and love, sadness and joy. We see infinitely more than we see when we look into a human face. It is the magic of this “infinitely more” that occurs in Isabel Bishop’s paintings. Couples have never been painted with such tender intimacy and revelation...Physical and emotional tenderness and trust is expressed without any sentimentality or cuteness.
- Helen Yglesias, - Isabel Bishop- 1988
“A shape, like a word, has innumerable associations that vibrate in the memory and any attempt to explain it by a single analogy is as futile as the translation of a poem. But the fact that we can base our argument either way on this unexpected union of sex and geometry is a proof of how deeply the concept of the nude is linked with our most elementary notions of order and design.” Isabel Bishop
Isabel Bishop’s nudes are at once sensual and ethereal. She declares in them her allegiance to a tradition whose exemplar is Rembrandt, by which the workaday nude, thick in the waist and heavy in the legs, is the symbol of human endurance and its worthiness to survive.
John Canaday - New York Times, 1967
Isabel Bishop’s early etchings present single-figure studies or two figures centrally placed in contexts that verge on vignette. Her later works explore groups of moving figures, young bodies in contemporary clothing stand, walk, slouch and turn toward or away from each other with crude, sturdy limbs. The figures themselves are outlined in dark black on pale, grayish paper and are in backgrounds detailed only by mottled washes and loose, broadly hatched areas, These figures take up the whole page, and represent an approach to abstraction more marked than any of Bishop’s earlier graphic work.
Elizabeth Frank - Art News, 1974
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