Joyce Pensato Interview: A Life With Cartoon Characters

Meet the unique artist Joyce Pensato, who paints funny yet sinister large-scale versions of cartoon figures and comic book heroes. We visited the Brooklynite in her studio where she showed us around and shared her love for the iconic characters.

Pensato is fond of discarded toys and the pop-culture imagery from her youth. She doesn’t watch cartoons but likes the way that they are drawn. Some writers have claimed that her work is critical of American culture, which she refutes: “First of all, I’m not criticizing them – I love them a lot.” Furthermore, she feels that she’s giving her characters a more human personality and that they “have more emotions going on than just a ‘happy Mickey’ or a ‘happy Ducky’… We don’t want happy, we want more than happy – something more to grab onto.”

Joyce Pensato (b. 1941-2019) is an American Brooklyn-born-raised-and-based artist. She paints large-scale likenesses of cartoon characters and comic-book heroes, using a technique, which results in alternately humorous and sinister imagery. Characters such as Batman, The Simpsons, South Park and Mickey Mouse are situated in troubling psychological states and indeterminate spaces and painted almost exclusively in black and white enamel. Solo exhibitions include Kunstraum Innsbruck, Petzel Gallery in New York City and Santa Monica Museum of Art. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, the Dallas Museum of Art, St. Louis Art Museum and the FRAC des Pays de la Loire. Pensato has won numerous awards including the Award of Merit Medal for Painting (2012), the Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award (1997) and the Guggenheim Fellowship (1996).

Joyce Pensato was interviewed by Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen at her studio in Brooklyn, New York City in July 2017.

Images shown in the video: Courtesy of the artist and Petzel, New York.

Camera: Jakob Solbakken
Produced and edited by: Roxanne Bagheshirin Lærkesen
Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2017

Supported by Nordea-fonden




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