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Image:“The Grinch” (detail) by John Arehart 2015, Digital Photograph, 16 x 20”

I'M NOT DONE PLAYING WITH THAT: Artists who Refuse to Put Away their Toys

Equity Gallery / December 1-30, 2021 / New York, New York



Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Equity Gallery presents "I'm Not Done Playing with That: Artists Who Refuse to Put Away Their Toys". Fourteen artists whose practices intersect with toys address whimsical, demented, or somber understandings of disposable consumer culture, art collectibles, questionable childhood safety, painterly concerns, corporal punishment, class struggle, and the enormity of war.  

Throughout their long association, modern artists have come to this rich and loaded subject from every angle. They create, appropriate, depict, dissect and upcycle. At minimum, the list includes Pablo Picasso, Lyonel Feininger, Alexander Calder, Andy Warhol, Claus Oldenberg, Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Laurie Simmons, Robert Gober, Malcolm Morley, Mike Kelly, and Louise Bourgeois. The extraordinary history of Surrealists and Post-Surrealist artists using toys is thoroughly explored by David Hopkins in “Dark Toys: Surrealism and the Culture of Childhood" (Yale University Press, 2021). More recently, artists such as KAWS, Futura 2000, and Yayoi Kusama have followed the collectibles model by creating limited edition art toys. 


I'm Not Done Playing with That includes collectible art toys by Trenton Doyle Hancock and Takashi Murakami, works that address our disposable consumer culture by D. Dominick Lombardi, Phil Buehler, and Amy Hill, while Mary Jo Vath and Barbara Friedman use toys as a vehicle for painterly concerns, examining their demented appearance and wondering ‘if their stories can be trusted’.  Questionable childhood safety is explored by Mary-Ann Monforton, John Arehart, Sally Curcio, Melanie Vote, Linda Griggs, and Steve Ellis and, finally, Tine Kindermann, Andrew Cornell Robinson and Peter Drake use small toys to confront the enormity of class struggle and war. 

Artists have often repurposed discarded, non-art objects. Toys as objects are no exception. though a discarded toy is especially disconcerting since children imbue them with tremendous meaning before casually tossing them aside. Freighted as they are, it is no surprise that toys so often make their way into the artists' process. 

Freighted as they are, it is no surprise that toys often make their way into the artists' process.

Gallery Hours: Wednesday to Saturday, 12 – 6PM

Equity Gallery
245 Broome Street
New York, New York

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