Joyce Pensato - 20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale Hong Kong Sunday, November 24, 2019 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
    Acquired from the above by the present owner in October 2007

  • Exhibited

    Los Angeles, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Joyce Pensato: I Killed Kenny, 1 June - 28 September 2013

  • Catalogue Essay

    She was (an) Expressionist, painting without colour.” (Clayton Press, “Joyce Pensato: Hello, I Must Be Going”, in Forbes, 30 July 2019, online)

    Simultaneously haunting and seductive, post-punk artist Joyce Pensato’s Donald exudes an air of coolness that is far from subtle. With unruly, exuberant brushwork, the famous Disney character is reimagined in ominous black enamel against a stark white background. A seemingly aggressive technique of rapid splattering, bold linear gestures and visceral scraping results in an in-your-face assault on the senses. A compelling example of the eerie reinterpretations of pop culture icons that became hallmarks of Pensato’s practice, Donald confronts the viewer, glowering over them with blank cartoon eyes and stripped of any comedic identity.

    As embodied in the present lot, Pensato’s unique style derived from her manic enamel-flecked universe and subversive appropriation of American entertainment culture. Although Pensato’s rise to international acclaim was riddled with setbacks, it was in these moments where the determination and devotion to her craft shone through, consequently helping to drive the development of her now instantly-identifiable practice. As a student of the New York Studio School, where she was mentored by Abstract Expressionist Joan Mitchell and shared a studio with lifelong friend and supporter Christopher Wool (who convinced her to switch from oil to enamel), Pensato set herself apart from her peers. Feeling uninspired by a task to paint “apples and pears, [Pensato] got out of the studio to see what [she] wanted to work with.” (Joyce Pensato, quoted in Clayton Press, “Joyce Pensato: Hello, I Must Be Going”, Forbes, 30 July 2019, online.) In New York’s streets and thrift stores, she found a multitude of pop culture artefacts, including toys, masks and figurines of cartoon heroes. Influenced by her growing collection, Pensato soon traded fruit bowl arrangements for a contemporary form of ‘still-life’ featuring icons that later became the central motifs of her work. Moving away from abstraction, Pensato began to release her pop culture characters onto canvas, thus changing the course of her art career as she became “one of the most exciting New York-based figurative painters” of her time. (Alex Greenberger, “Joyce Pensato, Creator of Punkish Paintings of Cartoon Characters, Dead at 78”, ARTNews, 13 June 2019, online)

    Now widely collected, Pensato’s work has been exhibited extensively in America since the 1990s and is held in the collections of key institutions including the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art, both in New York. Among her many accolades, she received the Robert de Niro Sr. Prize in 2013, the Award of Merit Medal for Painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2012, the Pollock Krasner Foundation Award in 1997, and a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1996. Pensato passed away on June 13, 2019, at the age of 78.



signed, titled and dated '"Donald" Joyce Pensato 1997' on the stretcher
enamel on linen
229.4 x 183 cm. (90 3/8 x 72 in.)
Executed in 1997.

HK$450,000 - 550,000 

Sold for HK$1,500,000

Contact Specialist
Danielle So
Associate Specialist, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Day Sale

Hong Kong Auction 25 November 2019