Joyce Pensato - New Now Hong Kong Friday, March 29, 2024 | Phillips
  • “I only connect to American cartoons. I think the simplicity of what you could put into it – the eyes, a mouth, and a nose and what you could express in it… The 80s gave me the freedom to just work. I was all about drawing, graphics, and black and white and accepted who I was, rather than trying to paint like somebody else.”
    — Joyce Pensato

    Inspired by her fascination with characters that stem from American pop culture, Brooklyn-born and based artist Joyce Pensato’s explorations into this subject have arrived at a highly recognisable style that is equal parts endearing and sinister. Often situated in troubling psychological states, the characters showcased within her portraits are not to be understood as a critique on American culture, but rather prima facie observations of these caricatures. Created in 2011, Silver Clown is an expressive and grotesque exemplar, referencing the enduring appeal of the widely popular cartoon figure, Bozo the Clown. Featuring a disproportionately enlarged nose, wide grin, and a pair of thick furry brows, Pensato injects her subject with a thread of humour, perhaps masking away the darkness and complexity that underlies the surface of contemporary pop culture. To achieve the visual effect of her paintings, Pensato incorporated her frenzied technique in applying bold linear gestures, spontaneous spatters and frequent erasures with store-bought black enamel and sporadic bursts of metallic silver, as seen in Silver Clown.


    Joyce Pensato’s (1941–2019) works have been exhibited extensively. She has held solo exhibitions with Grice Bench, Los Angeles; Petzel Gallery, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Kunstraum Innsbruck, Austria; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, amongst others. The artist’s works are also in the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; and Dallas Museum of Art, Texas.



    Interview with Joyce Pensato in her Brooklyn studio, 2017

    Video Courtesy of Louisiana Channel

    • Provenance

      Petzel Gallery, New York
      Private Collection, New York
      Phillips, Hong Kong, 31 March 2023, lot 156
      Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      New York, Petzel Gallery, Batman Returns, 12 January – 25 February 2012


Silver Clown

signed, titled and dated 'Joyce Pensato 2011 "SILVER CLOWN"' on the reverse
enamel and metallic paint on linen
228.7 x 182.7 cm. (90 x 71 7/8 in.)
Executed in 2011.

Full Cataloguing

HK$500,000 - 700,000 

Contact Specialist

Angela Tian
Associate Specialist, Head of New Now Sale
20th Century & Contemporary Art, Hong Kong
+852 2318 2058

New Now

Hong Kong Auction 29 March 2024