Joyce Pensato is best known for her stark, large-scale paintings of cartoon characters and in particular for her series of Batman paintings that depict the cape crusader’s iconic mask using splashy skeins of black and white paint.
Joyce Pensato draws in charcoal and paints in enamel — dense, clinging soot and viscous liquid. For years her palette has been black, white and silver, though color is beginning to make an appearance in her recent paintings, mostly as splatters and drips. The drawing process is one of making marks, rubbing them out and making more marks, with line being the essential form. In the paintings, the line is made of enamel that initially appears to have been applied quickly, though its varying densities and its field of drips and splatters makes it clear that it wasn’t done in a single shot. In both drawing and painting Pensato is committed to finding the linear form that captures her subject matter, be it Homer Simpson, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Batman, Groucho Marx, Felix the Cat, toy clowns, or not-so-cuddly monkeys.
“Does anyone still wear a hat?” This lyric from Stephen Sondheim’s masterpiece musical Company, as crooned out by Elaine Stritch, rung in my head as I found out that master milliner Stephen Jones’s show Hats: An Anthology would travel across the pond from the Victoria & Albert Museum in London to the Bard Graduate Center in New York City this Fall. Though English aristocracy continues to include interesting headwear in their luxe lexicon (remember the Royal Wedding?), are hats still so much a sartorial staple in the United States that they warrant an exhibition?