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Joyce Pensato


Published on the occasion of the exhibition Joyce Pensato: I Killed Kenny, at the Santa Monica Museum of Art, June 1 - October 5, 2013, and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis January 24 - April 13, 2014.

For more than 30 years New York–based artist Joyce Pensato (born 1941) has transformed America's most iconic cartoon characters into psychologically charged enamel paintings and charcoal drawings. Her subjects, such as Mickey Mouse, Felix the Cat, Donald and Daisy Duck, the Simpsons, Batman and South Park's Kyle and Stan, oscillate between comedic representation and menacing abstraction. I Killed Kenny is the first museum exhibition devoted to Pensato's work and features the monumental wall painting "Running Mickeys," created on-site for CAM. Presenting a selection of key paintings and works on paper spanning Pensato's career—from being mentored by Joan Mitchell and Mercedes Matter at the New York Studio School in the 1970s to her most recent metallic painting, "Gold Batman"—this book reveals her work's evolution.

The publication contains the following texts:
Foreword by Elsa Longhauser
"Killing Kenny" by Jeffrey Uslip
"Joyce Pensato's Rescue Operation" by John Yau
"Follow That Nose, an interview with Joyce Pensato" by Ali Subotnick

12.75 x 9.5 inches
110 pages
Published by Santa Monica Museum of Art, California 
© 2014 SMMoA and Joyce Pensato

ISBN 978-0-9839672-2-4

About the artist

Joyce Pensato (b. 1941, Brooklyn, NY, d. 2019, New York, NY)

Joyce Pensato lived and worked in Brooklyn, New York and studied at the New York Studio School. In her work, she was committed to depicting a baleful transmutation of American cartoon culture—employing her fast, assured, and gestural hand—to shed light on the arguable darkness lurking within our familiar Pop iconography. She was best known for her large-scale paintings which employed a familiar cast of cartoon characters, including Homer Simpson, Groucho Marx, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and a character the artist called “The Juicer.”

She received many awards in her lifetime including The Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize; The Award of Merit Medal for Painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; Anonymous Was A Woman Award; Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award; Guggenheim Fellowship; New York Foundation for the Arts; and Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation.

Her work has been exhibited widely, including solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago; Kunstraum Innsbruck, Innsbruck; Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth; High Museum of Art, Atlanta; Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica; and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, Saint Louis. Group exhibitions include the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; ICA Miami, Miami; Kunsten Museum of Modern Art Aalborg, Aalborg; Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston; Centre Pompidou, Paris; and the Speed Museum of Art, Louisville.

Pensato’s work is included in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Chicago; and FRAC des Pays de la Loire, Carquefou, France.