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. 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.” Pensato was committed to her 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 received many awards in her lifetime including The Robert De Niro, Sr. Prize (2013); The Award of Merit Medal for Painting from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (2012); Anonymous Was A Woman Award (2010); Pollock-Krasner Foundation Award (1997); Guggenheim Fellowship (1996); New York Foundation for the Arts (1995); and Mid-Atlantic Arts Foundation (1992).
Her work has been exhibited widely, including exhibitions at: Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (2017); Whitney Museum of American Art (2017); Kunstraum Innsbruck (2016); Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth (2015); Santa Monica Museum of Art (2013); Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2013); Speed Museum of Art (2011); Museum of Modern Art San Francisco (2000); and St. Louis Art Museum (1994).
Pensato’s work is included in the collections of: Museum of Modern Art, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Dallas Museum of Art; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago; and FRAC des Pays de la Loire, France.
“For all the humor and goofiness that comes across in these large in-your face paintings, there is something alarming about them. Her humorous, sad sack caricatures barely contain a suppressed rage. Their exaggerated features speak directly to the fractured American psyche, especially when it comes to race, ethnicity, and notions of beauty.”
John Yau, “Paint it Black, Blacker, and Blackest,” Hyperallergic, February 18, 2012