Thursday, February 18, 2010

Walker: Dislike Button

Todd Norsten's "Ceaseless Boundless Endless Joy" is displayed that the Walker Art Center. Todd is an American who was born in 1967. He has had shows in New York City, Seoul, and here in Minneapolis. He actually had a solo show at the Midway Gallery.
This is a 78 x 66" oil painting on canvas. The painted on letters are meant to appear to be masking tape. It was done in 2008.
I really do not like this piece. It seems pointless and uninteresting, but I will admit that the craft is good. Until you get right up close, it really does look like masking tape. I honestly thought it was until I took a closer look. Nonetheless, this painting says nothing to me. It doesn't even speak the words that are painted on it.
There is no information available about what this work is supposed to mean. Why was it made? What is it supposed to say. It is possible that the feeling of the piece is supposed to contradict the actual text. It also could just be that the artist enjoys the idea that people generally try to read a painting as much as they try to read words on a paper.
This artist has done several pieces with this theme. He uses these words over and over. In fact almost all of his work involves large, bold text on canvas. These words are meant to be dramatic and shocking. One of his paintings is called "You Fuckers." It is a 60x48" painting. The background is a mid-gray color and the words are almost white. The text takes up about 70% of the canvas. In that piece, the text is less bold because the words are. In this piece, the words are clear, but they are not as shocking.
It was interesting to learn about Todd's techniques and his ideas, but I still don't believe that his work belongs in a museum. He is not saying anything Proxy-Connection: keep-alive
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portant. It seems like he is just playing around with the concept of words combined with paintings. Art means more to me than that.


  1. I liked the choice of words within the piece, but not the piece itself and how they were represented...or not represented..

  2. But what about the thoughts provoked by the piece? What is the endless joy?
    I really liked this piece. I felt like it brings up the feeling of joy you get with the simple things and open choices. Masking tape is something so simple and, for me, it creates a lot of joy. It does a lot and it's such a common thing. White is a simple shade. It's clean but extremely zen-like. It creates a feeling of endless possibilities and it's not overwhelming at all. It's a blank canvas (har, har), you can create anything on it.
    So why not use something (or represent something using something else (ie paint as masking tape)) common and overlooked on endless possibilities to create the feeling stated.
    Just my thought on the piece and what it means to me. Hopefully it makes the piece a bit more appealing.