press release

Toy \Toy\ (toi) n 1: an artifact designed to be played with (syn: plaything) 2: a nonfunctional replica of something else (frequently used as a modifier); "a toy stove" 3: a copy that reproduces something in greatly reduced size (syn: miniature).

Source: WordNet ® 1.6, © 1997 Princeton University Toy Box addresses a prevailing current among much Contemporary art- the use of toys and childhood imagery as a source or inspiration for artists. This exhibition brings together determining works by nine artists working in a diversity of media including painting, drawing, sculpture, video, and photography. Thirteen drawings from a slightly earlier period (1989-1993) of Yoshitomo Nara’s career act as a catalyst for this exhibition. Yoshitomo Nara is perhaps the most recognizable artist today working on the subject of childhood; the comical, whimsical drawings on notebook paper presented here reveal a freer side to Nara’s Neo-Pop style.

At one point absolutely everyone has created something out of toys. Whether you played with dolls or Lego blocks, toys functioned as a tool to develop your creativity. But how do artists, who have never stopped developing their creativity, use toys? TOY BOX unites a diversity of works on this subject and opens discussion to the manifold interpretations that a curatorial project like this will surely inspire.

Liliana Porter once stated,” the toy is the recipient of our subjectivity.” In her photographs Liliana Porter stages miniature figurines in situations that insinuate a human rapport between the characters. In his drawings and photographs Fred Fleisher reflects on the psychological consequences of childhood experiences. Fleisher transforms popular childhood icons, like Barbie and Sesame Street’s Bert, into perverse creatures by slicing and recombining various parts from different toys. Roy Bautista,, in a category all his own, playfully uses toys to create sculptures composed of found objects and creates highly original drawings inspired by comics. Ellen Birkenblit finds her source in childhood fairy tales. She makes fantastical drawings figuring a scullerymaid and her surreal animal companions. Marguerite Day is concerned with toys socially associated with young girls. She applies images of dolls, toys and antique figurines to create delicate watercolors, collages and drawings. Katherine Desjardins composes large lyrical drawings of animals and children, which can be combined and recombined in various ways to create unusual narratives. Gabriela Galvan films wonderfully imaginative and bizarre narratives of toys and dolls. Her camera style and creative set designs intensely stimulate the viewer’s visual and auditory senses. Finally, Arlene Berrie makes Neo-Expressionistic paintings that feature childhood television characters, like Barney and Sesame Street protagonists in surreal and psychologically tense situations.

By employing various media and exploring a multiplicity of uses, the artists in this show juggle the emotional, symbolic, poetic, and fantastic associations with toys. Presented in the proverbial “white box” gallery setting, these works, when viewed as a whole, demonstrate that toys still capture the imagination of artists creating in Contemporary society.


only in german

kuratiert von Carolina Wonder

mit Arlene Berrie, Ellen Berkenblit , Fred Fleisher, Gabriela Galvan , Katherine Desjardins, Liliana Porter, Marguerite Day, Roy Bautista, Yoshitomo Nara