Whitney Story

Fast Forward: Joyce Pensato In The Studio
Apr 25, 2017

From her studio in Brooklyn, Joyce Pensato discusses the influences behind her paintings and how the 1980s were a turning point for her career.

Hi, I'm Joyce Pensato here in my studio in Brooklyn with Charlie the dog.

I really love the structure of Mickey Mouse.  I got into it in the early '80s.  I found this little Mickey he had his legs missing and his arms were missing. It was just a body. I think I was drawing in the '80s just what was familiar to me. 

Mickey Mouse is very American. And I only connect to actually American cartoons. I think just the simplicity of what you could put into it. It's just eyes and a mouth and a nose and what you could express in it.  The Whitney has either the first or second Mickey Mouse on painting that I ever did. And that looks like Edvard Munch to me. There's something kind of a sad or brooding about it. 

The charcoal drawings are a different approach. It's slower, you know, it's more going in with and in and out and then wetting it down and breaking it down with an electric sander.

The '80s gave me the freedom to just work. I was all about drawing and graphic and black and white and accepted who I was rather than trying to paint like somebody else. And so I became one, you know, one as an artist with my language and imagery. And I realized I could invent my own space. And that was a big breakthrough.