Nicole Eisenman (b. 1965) is a French-born American artist known for her figurative paintings, drawings, sculptures and prints. Drawing from a range of art historical references, classical mythology, pop culture, comics and graphic novels, Eisenman’s work addresses topics such as gender, identity and power. In a variety of rhetorical modes – including allegory and satire – they portray characters with raunchy humor and homage to the political legacy and utopian aspirations of queer history.
Her 1995 painting Amazon Scene depicts several muscular, bound and scantily-clad men hunched amidst a jungle clearing. They sit surrounded by bored-looking female captors clad in armor, high-heels and double-barrel shotguns. One Amazon sits nude at the edge of the clearing, her legs comfortably crossed, and looks at the wriggling captives as if awaiting intercourse with one of them–classical myths purport that the amazons wouldn’t kill all men in war but take some as slaves in order to reproduce. The reversal of traditional power roles built into this theatrical tableau touches on female sexual fantasies, suppressed fears, and subconscious projections.
Eisenman’s mid-career retrospective, Dear Nemesis, Nicole Eisenman, 1993-2013 organized by the Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, travelled to The Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia, and The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, San Diego. She has exhibited at major institutions internationally and has been included in numerous group shows such as the Whitney Biennial 1995 and 2012, Whitney Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Bad Girls, Institute of Contemporary Art, London, Ikon Gallery Birmingham, Wright Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles, and The Center for Contemporary Art, Glasgow (1993/94), and most recently into the European Biennial Manifesta 10, St. Petersburg, Russia, and Painting 2.0, Museum Brandhorst, Munich. Her works are held in renowned museums collections including The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Museum of Modern Art, New York, Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich, and Museum Ludwig, Cologne. Nicole Eisenman was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 2015.