For Fischl, the suppurating wound was his mother. Depressed, alcoholic, beautiful, creatively thwarted, subject to fits of epic rage for which she blamed her children and husband, she should have had her own chapter in “The Feminine Mystique.” Betty Friedan reported mordantly on suburban women who suddenly go berserk and run shrieking through the streets naked; Fischl’s mother actually was picked up by the police running through the streets of suburban Long Island naked. She walked around the house naked too, throwing her adolescent son off kilter. After threatening for years to kill herself, she finally succeeded, driving her car into a tree. His family’s secrecy and shame about these ordeals migrated into the anxious, discomfiting iconography of Fischl’s paintings. At first he wasn’t aware of it, embarking on a series of crude images about an imaginary near-eponymous family he called “the Fishers,” whose story grew increasingly miserable. As his process became more free-associational, what eventually emerged were the “psychosexual suburban paintings” he became famous for. “Bad Boy” doubles as the title of a potent early example, a vaguely incestuous scene of a young boy stealing something from the pocketbook of an inattentive naked woman, who lies spread-eagle on a bed.
more from Laura Kipnis at the NY Times here.