Joyce Pensato

Joyce Pensato

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) 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

  • Joyce Pensato

    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.

  • Paul Auster

    What Could Have Been

    “I don’t think there’s a human being alive who doesn’t reflect on what could have been.” Watch the great American novelist Paul Auster on the impact of the choices we make, the obsessive nature of writing and having reached the age of 70.

  • Bunny Rogers

    Mourning Youth

    Watch the praised artist Bunny Rogers (b. 1990) talk about creating autobiographical work that draws from memory and deals with her childhood by archiving her feelings from that time: “You can’t make objective art, it’s going to be subjective.”

  • Ed Atkins

    Something is Missing

    Ed Atkins is considered one of the most unsettling contemporary artists – as well as one of the most exciting. In this video, the young British artist shares how he works from written texts, and why melancholy is at the centre of his animated digital videos.

  • Louisa Gagliardi

    Longing for Something Else

    “Art is amazing because it’s in a way unnecessary, but extremely necessary as a testimony of its time.” Let us introduce you to a rising star of painting, Louisa Gagliardi, who creates her surreal work digitally and adds layers of paint to the printed image.

  • Hannah Levy

    A Design Purgatory

    “I wonder if the reason why people want to touch it is that they’re in some way attracted to it, or if they’re repulsed by it.” Meet the young artist Hannah Levy, who primarily makes sculptures combining curving steel forms with cast silicone.

  • Dora Budor

    Acting Things

    “I want to use art as a field where I can explore parallel scenarios.” Dora Budor makes complex sculptures and interactive installations inspired by cinematic metaverse and scientific research. Join us as we visit the young Croatian artist in her studio.

  • Ian Cheng

    A Portal to Infinity

    Watch Ian Cheng, a rising star on the art scene, talk about his trilogy of animated live simulation works – ‘Emissaries’ – which work like a never-ending video game in real time: “It was a process that was on-going as life is on-going.”

  • Yona Friedman

    Advice to the Young

    What piece of advice would a renowned 94-year-old architect offer young architects? Find out in this short video, where Yona Friedman argues that architects must always adapt to the context and work for the average user.

  • Jan Gehl

    How to Build a Good City

    “We now know that first, we form the cities, but then the cities form us.” Meet the 81-year-old Danish architect Jan Gehl, who for more than fifty years has focused on improving the quality of urban life by helping people “re-conquer the city.”

  • Beate Grimsrud

    Who You Are

    A common thread in Beate Grimsrud’s novels is her portrayal of offbeat characters. Find out how the Norwegian writer wishes to broaden the spectrum for normality by becoming “a ladder” for all voices: “I suppose my aim is to include the outsiders.”

  • Sambuichi

    Why Hiroshima Became Green Again

    Hiroshi Sambuichi – one of the leading green architects of our time – here reflects on his hometown Hiroshima and how “the power of nature” helped the landscape to restore so rapidly following the atomic bombings during World War II.