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  • Provenance

    Feature Inc., New York

  • Exhibited

    New York, Feature Inc., Tom Friedman, March 14 – April 8, 2000
    Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art, July 8-October 1, 2000; San Francisco, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, November 4, 2000- January 28, 2001; Aspen Art Museum, February 16-April 15, 2001; Winston-Salem, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, July 14-September 24, 2001 and New York, The New Museum for Contemporary Art, October 12, 2001-February 3, 2002, Tom Friedman, p. 84 (illustrated)

  • Literature

    Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, eds., Tom Friedman, Winston-Salem, 2000, p. 84 (illustrated)
    J. Saltz, “Anything Goes”, The Village Voice, April 5-11, 2000
    Guggenheim Museum, eds., Hugo Boss Prize, New York, 2000, p. 57 (illustrated)
    B. Hainley, D. Cooper and A. Searle, Tom Friedman, London, 2001, pp. 70-71 (illustrated)
    G. Celant, ed., Tom Friedman, Fondazaione Prada, Milan, 2002, pp. 180-181, 210-11 (illustrated)
    U. Grosenick and B. Riemschneider, eds., Art Now, Cologne and Berlin, 2002, p. 162 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Untitled, 2000 Tom Friedman creates a scrutinized, mutilated self-portrait of himself. The uncanny attention to detail and the artist’s skill in manipulating the medium construction paper with anatomical detail, albeit surgical precision, to the sculpture exposes the crucial methodologies evident in Friedman’s oeuvre that have made the artist legendary amongst most art circle milieus.

    Inherent in the work is a profound irony, the displacement of the norm as perceived here in a traditional self-portrait, has been turned upside down. His body remains torn apart, the audience is caught off guard by the immediacy of violence before us—are we witness to the literal aftermath of a motorcycle accident-- turning our necks to analyze the grotesque unveiled to us? Yet once the medium is laid bare, there is a distinct humor in the work. Taking form within Friedman’s larger body of artwork, this comedic thread is not uncommon. Rather, as the artist explains, it is a subject he strives to elucidate,

    “You know, no one wants to look at art and have it not do anything. I think this came from the unassuming quality already inherent in my work. I thought about the art of downplay which came from my interest in Andy Kaufman’s comedy. I had seen his comedy on TV as I was growing up. He did this one performance where he would start telling really horrible jokes. And you could see the audience was thinking, ‘Oh, this is so bad!’ He would become aware of the audience’s disapproval and become almost paralyzed with stage fright. Then he’d start to whimper and cry. The crying would start to slowly take on rhythm. There were bongos, next to him on the stage. And then dancing was added to the rhythm, which led him to the bongos, which he started playing, and then he danced offstage. It was just unbelievable. After you realized the joke, it just changed your whole perception of what he was doing.” (Tom Friedman, taken from an interview in B. Hainley, D. Cooper, and A. Searle, Tom Friedman, London, 2001, p. 18)

    As with a staged comedic performance, the audience is captive to the imagination behind the performer, in this case Tom Friedman. Friedman ignites our imaginations with a horrific scene, and then spins this reality 180º to reveal the joke at our expense. Tantalizing and skillfully executed, Friedman’s Untitled, 2000 performs a great exercise in humility and beckons us to the craft self-evident in the work: pushed to our boundaries of expectation, the extremities reveal the artistic genius underneath.

  • Artist Biography

    Tom Friedman

    American • 1965

    Tom Friedman is a multimedia artist working mainly in sculpture and works-on-paper. Interested in looking at the thin line between fantasy and autobiography, Friedman often creates works that push viewers into a complicit state of witnessing. His sculptures are composed of a multitude of objects, and he assembles them in such a way as to transform the mundane into an intricate work of art. He combines materials such as Styrofoam, foil, paper, clay, wire, hair and fuzz through a labor-intensive practice that seeks to tell a story, whether about himself or the world at large.

    Friedman's approach to autobiography is not memoiristic. Rather, he takes the smallest moments of his life, like a piece of paper found on the street, and blows it out of proportion.

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Construction paper.
12 x 114 x 120 in. (30.5 x 289.6 x 304.8 cm).
A paper representation of the artist violently torn apart.

$900,000 - 1,200,000 

Sold for $856,000

Contemporary Art Part I

16 Nov 2006, 7pm
New York