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WAYNE THIEBAUD x VONN SUMNER | Artist to Artist | The Last Interview | Cultbytes

29 Dec

Interviews

Wayne Thiebaud. The Last Interview

Anna Mikaela Ekstrand

December 28, 2021

Vonn Cummings Sumner, Krazy Mirror, 2021. Oil on panel. 10 x 8 inches. Photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art.

The passing of celebrated California painter Wayne Thiebaud was confirmed by his gallery Aqcuavella on Sunday. “Even at 101 years old, he still spent most days in the studio, driven by, as he described with his characteristic humility, ‘this almost neurotic fixation of trying to learn to paint’,” the statement said.

Thiebaud’s now legendary practice expanded the Pop Art movement, being particularly known for his unique focus on paintings of everyday subject matter – cakes, pies, gumball machines, and highways – inflected with pastel hues and a sense of Americana. These works were staples at major auction house sales; Four Pinball Machines (1920) sold at Christie’s for a staggering $19,1 million in July 2020 and Sotheby’s holds the record for his cakes when Encased Cakes netted $8,46 million in 2019.

Though highly celebrated for his mastery over the painted medium, this last interview reveals the lesser-known influences of cartooning on both his oeuvre and that of peers such as Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston. Particularly loved by his cohort was Krazy Kat—the mid-20th century icon created by George Herriman—in 1990 Thiebaud collaborated with choreographer Brenda Way on a ballet based on the strip in San Francisco.

Krazy Kat reappeared as the titular character of Thiebaud’s former student Vonn Cummings Sumner’s solo show Krazy Times at Morton Fine Art in Washington, D.C. this past November. “I have been so incredibly fortunate to have Wayne as a kind of confidant, a co-conspirator,” says the painter, for whom studio visits with Thiebaud continued throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. On the occasion of Cummings exhibition, he and Thiebaud conducted an interview. Emphasizing the significance of artistic exchange across time, space, and generations and reflective of their decades-long friendship, this conversation dives deep into the trajectories of both artists’ practices, highlighting Thiebaud’s illustrious career and the influence of his mentorship on Sumner, his former student, and their shared interest in Krazy Kat.

Wayne Thiebaud
Portrait of Wayne Thiebaud in Vonn Cummings Sumner’s studio, featuring Sumner’s Krazy Kat paintings in the background. Image courtesy of Vonn Cummings Sumner.

Wayne Thiebaud: How did we get into this Krazy business in the first place?

Vonn Sumner: Well, you introduced Krazy Kat to me, when I was in your Theory & Criticism class. But, I wondered if you remember where and when you first saw Krazy Kat?

WT: When I was in the Army Air Force doing a little strip of my own, about a nondescript, dogface, Army Corporal, who was getting into all kinds of trouble a fellow by the name of Bob Crosby introduced me to the cartoonist George Herriman, the creator of the Krazy Kat strip. Bob tthought my strip was repetitive, full of cliches, and that I should shape up and become acquainted with Krazy Kat. To me it looked like a bunch of nonsense. I had just been to war and was, I guess, 20, 21 years old it was 1942 or 3.

VS: When I was a child, my introduction to any kind of pictures, really, were through children’s book illustrations and then comic books.

WT: For most American painters, that was their experience. They all talked about it, even, of course, Philip Guston. A lot of the people around the New York group were early cartoonists, and fed on American cartoonists and illustrations.

VS: Do you think it was a particularly American phenomenon to grow up looking at those things?

WT: I’ve heard that Picasso and some of the Surrealists were interested in Krazy Kat, but I have no documents to back this claim. They were certainly following Tin Tin, the Belgian cartoon. Regardless of which character we are talking about, the idea of humanity is central. How we can get them somehow to touch on that aspect? Not so much comic, and pratfalls, and actions, but just the aspect of when they are most human. For instance, I never found Nancy [a comic strip character that the artist Joe Brainard used in his artwork] very humane. But humanity runs all the way through Krazy Kat: his vulnerability and his wiseness in the face of naiveté. Such loving characteristics. So, you’ve done some, I think, quite remarkable paintings bringing him into little vignettes, and, mostly him with—and I haven’t seen all of them—but usually he’s somewhat alone, with some action, or with an elephant, or with something. I think they’re very, very well done, and very humane.

VS: When I showed you those first two little Krazy Kat paintings that I did, you spoke about the idea of “painting for the millions.” You quoted someone saying you shouldn’t pick up a pen to start writing without considering the millions, or the masses – the audience.

WT: I think that was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the German.

Vonn Cummings Sumner
Vonn Cummings Sumner, The Sky is On Fire, 2021. Oil on panel. 18 x 18 inches. Photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art.

VS: Why is does Krazy Kat lend itself to such popularity?

WT: Well, because it’s hard to understand Krazy Kat. What is going on? What is his/her gender? Why is the Southwest such a powerful environment for him? The wide open spaces? The wonderful, unpredictable-ness of the landscape, in terms of particularly American history. So why is that, rather than a more ‘normal’ environment, for Krazy Kat? I think it’s because of the unending possibilities that something like that open space can achieve.

VS: I don’t know if you remember this, Wayne, but you once sent me a postcard, or a little reproduction card from a Morandi show that Paul [Thiebaud] did in San Francisco. You put a Krazy Kat cartoon folded up inside of it and then you made a little note on the envelope, you said: “Krazy Kat and Morandi, an ideal dialectic!” I thought it was exciting as an idea. What if you set up those two as a dialectic, what comes out of that space in between them?

To point it in another direction: I wonder what it is about cartoon characters that allows people to identify with them? In your teaching, you emphasize the role of empathy, in both making paintings and also in looking at them, perceiving them. How do you see the role of empathy relating specifically to Krazy Kat, or why do you think we feel so attached to that little character?

WT: Well at center, it seems to me, is vulnerability. Not ‘sob story’ vulnerability, not too obvious, because he is determined, usually, never to be vulnerable. He resists vulnerability, it seems to me, which is quite a curious characteristic. You hit him on the head with a brick—could not care less! It is as much a ‘love-tap’ as a pain in the head!

VS: Part of what has been the challenge and the goal of doing these Krazy Kat paintings, for me, is to fully leave all of those photographic reference kind of crutches behind, and just work from drawings or memory or invention.

WT: I think that is where the gold lies.

VS: Why? What does memory painting allow for?

WT: It is not fixed. If you think about what you are getting from your memory, and as you begin to use it, all kinds of other things come into it, suddenly; mistakes, aberrations; ‘Gee, I didn’t know that little bump was so effective.’ You start out with one sense, one memory, and it becomes almost a kaleidoscope. There are suddenly all these variants of that one memory. That is the way I think of memory. And, I do not think it depends on just getting something fixed, but almost the opposite. Getting something which allows you to expand, to contract, to change, to color, to enlarge, all of the possibilities of that instance.

VS: So that you can discover something that you did not set out to know, or so that you can surprise yourself?

WT: Exactly. You can know, generally, in advance; but you cannot know, or deal with the surprises, the accidents that inform the work differently than you thought. Some of that can come into Krazy Kat. I do not think he has to be grand and clear. You are doing that, I think, with some effect.

Vonn Cummings Sumner
Vonn Cummings Sumner, Ghosts, 2021. Oil on paper on panel. 12 x 12 inches. Photo credit: Robert Wedemeyer. Courtesy the artist and Morton Fine Art.

VS: I am interested in the idea of this singular character or figure that is both something that we know, something that we can agree on while being built into the world that Herriman was creating that is always changing. This process of becoming or unbecoming and unraveling lends itself well to uncertainty and open-endedness.

WT: Yes.

VS: Returning to incorporating humanity in painting. Ironically, it is through painting this strange cat that is not a cat, actually somehow you are trying to get at our own human vulnerability and hopes and dreams and whimsies and daydreams and nostalgia. All of the things that this amazing character can embody, right?

WT: It is not a simple problem; it is fascinating, challenging, and wonderful to see what happens. So, it is a treat to think of just ‘what is this painting going to look like?’ And, I am trying to make it look as interesting as possible. So that form– the formal order– is sustained, celebrated, and used ruthlessly, to make those paintings special, whatever the direction, whatever the intent. That is more likely than anything to get them into the canon, and the celebration.

Wayne Thiebaud
Wayne Thiebaud, Boston Cremes, 1962. Image courtesy of Crocker Art Museum.

VS: I have decided that I like the question that kind of lurks next to the Krazy Kat paintings– can you even paint this? Or is it really ridiculous and not even worthwhile at all!

WT: [Laughter] That is the confrontation. That is exactly the way I felt trying to paint those damn pies. I could not believe anyone would be interested, on the other hand, I was just like, wow this is fun.

ANNA MIKAELA EKSTRAND

Editor-in-Chief and Principal PR/Digital & Curatorial Services, Cultbytes Building on her experience as an art critic and digital strategist, Anna Mikaela founded Cultbytes to promote interdisciplinary and non-hierarchical cultural criticism. By attracting the leading emerging museum professionals, artists, and art-critics to cover topics close to their heart her aim is to inspire cultural consumption in the public. As the Principal of PR/Digital & Curatorial Services, Anna Mikaela leverages her knowledge, network, and team to find new ways to innovate communications and curatorial practices to benefit her clients. She has held curatorial positions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bard Graduate Center, Solomon R. Guggenheim, and the Museum of Arts and Design. She holds dual MA degrees, in Design History, Material Culture, and Decorative Arts from Bard Graduate Center and in Art History from Stockholm University. She undertook her undergraduate studies at Stockholm University, Paris-Sorbonne IV, and London School of Economics and Political Science. 

Available Artwork by VONN CUMMINGS SUMNER

Wayne Thiebaud | Vonn Cummings Sumner | Manetti Shrem Museum | San Francisco Chronicle’s Datebook

2 Nov

ART & EXHIBITS

Celebrating Wayne Thiebaud’s influence as artist turns 101 at Manetti Shrem Museum

Tony Bravo October 30, 2021Updated: November 1, 2021, 9:07 am

“Three Treats” is one of more than a dozen Thiebaud works on view in “Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation” at the Manetti Shrem Museum.Photo: © 2021 Wayne Thiebaud / Licensed by VAGA at Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY. / Photos by UC Davis/Greg Urquiaga

In his celebrated seven-decade career, painter Wayne Thiebaud has created a body of work that continues to captivate and inspire new viewers.

A pre-Pop Art innovator and figurative artist known for his elevation of everyday objects, Thiebaud has intersected with generations of students, beginning in 1960 when he joined UC Davis’ then-fledgling art department as a professor. Although he officially retired in 1990 (he continued teaching until 2002), he remains a professor emeritus at the school.

His larger reach in the world of painting is the subject of an exhibition at UC Davis’ Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, titled “Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation,” on view through Nov. 12 — closing just three days before he turns 101. The Sacramento artist, who still paints every day, will be honored along with the Wayne Thiebaud Foundation, which will receive the Margrit Mondavi Arts Medallion at the museum’s annual gala the weekend of Thiebaud’s birthday.

For the Manetti Shrem Museum’s associate curator, Susie Kantor, there was a desire that the exhibition not just look back at the 100 years of Thiebaud’s life and work, but also “look ahead to the next 100 years” of art inspired by him. Of special interest to Kantor was work by students from his more than 40 years of teaching at Davis.

“He describes himself as a painter and a teacher, and I think they’re equally important to him,” Kantor says. “He gets so much from the teaching and from his students. He talked about it keeping him young, so maybe that’s longevity’s secret.”

“Wayne Thiebaud Influencer” features work by 19 artists, 13 of whom have been his students, who have been inspired by different aspects of Thiebaud’s canon. Their work is presented in conversation with Thiebaud’s own, allowing viewers to make comparisons and connections and see the chain of influence from one generation to the next.

Among the artists presented are Christopher Brown, April Glory Funcke, Grace Munakata, Bruce Nauman, Vonn Cummings Sumner and Patricia Wall, who all studied with Thiebaud, along with Andrea Bowers, Robert Colescott, Alex Israel, Jason Stopa, Jonas Wood and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye. Many of the artists featured became teachers themselves.

“A lot of the artists who studied with him talked about the idea of a daily practice,” Kantor says. “Many of them still do sketchbooks. That rigor in the daily practice, this idea of process is really key, but the value that they place on it comes from working and studying with Wayne.”

Vonn Sumner, “Shopping,” 2020. Oil on canvas.Photo: © Vonn Sumner

Sumner, who is based in Santa Ana and Palo Alto and has seven paintings in the exhibition, chose to attend Davis because Thiebaud was a member of the faculty. He earned both his bachelor’s degree (in 1998) and his MFA (in 2000) with an emphasis on painting from the school.

“I wanted to study with him because I loved his paintings, and to my surprise and good fortune I discovered that he was a truly great teacher,” Sumner says. In graduate school, he became Thiebaud’s teaching assistant and developed a deeper creative dialogue with the older artist. The two have maintained a “close mentor/mentee relationship” for 20 years.

Among Sumner’s works featured in the show is the 2020 oil “The Elephant in the Room II,” a work in which Sumner sees Thiebaud’s influence. It’s a memory painting created with no photo reference, a practice Thiebaud also employs.

“Wayne teaches his students how to see, essentially,” Sumner says. “This kind of ‘seeing’ includes critical thinking, developing our own questions, setting up tensions and problems to solve with paint.”

Munakata, a mixed-media painter based in Berkeley who has three works in the exhibition, also studied with Thiebaud as both an undergraduate and graduate student in the 1980s and was his teaching assistant for his beginning color class. She still remembers seeing Thiebaud’s painting “Yellow Dress” in 1974 and shows it to her students at Cal State East Bay “to help students see color within a single ‘color,’ and sense the human hand and intelligence in the choices he made.”

Grace Munakata, “Sitka Colonnade,” 2020. Acrylic and wax pastel.Photo: © Grace Munakata

Munakata’s 2019 acrylic painting “Reykjanes,” an abstract inspired by an Icelandic landscape, is one of two works of hers in the exhibition. She notes: “In Thiebaud’s city- and riverscapes, impossible combinations of planes and scale converge, though unlike my work, his devices read as a single, crazily knit landscape.”

Berkeley painter Christopher Brown,  whose 2017 oil “Twice Over” is in the exhibition, says the influence of Thiebaud’s “Cityscape” series depicting San Francisco remains meaningful even 50 years after he first viewed studies for the work in a show at the Davis student union. The tension between organization and chaos represented in the grid-like patterns of the “Cityscape” works is evident in the architectural subject matter of “Twice Over.”

“When you’re a young artist, you see the most obvious, alluring things in any other artist’s work,” says Brown, like technical skills you may not yet have mastered. “But, you learn by just looking at it: ‘Oh, that’s how he put that together, that’s how he made the paint, look at the way he uses color.’ His paintings are about those fundamental things. What’s beautiful about his work is the way that he takes those things, those elements, and he intensifies them.”

Christopher Brown, “Twice Over,” 2017. Oil on linen on panel.Photo: © Christopher Brown / Berggruen Gallery

“Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation”: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday-Friday; 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday-Sunday. Through Nov. 12 (closed Nov. 11 for Veterans Day). Free; reservations recommended. UC Davis’s Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, 254 Old Davis Road, Davis. 530-752-9623. manettishremmuseum.ucdavis.edu

Related articles

Getting to know Wayne Thiebaud as the painter turns 100

Wayne Thiebaud, approaching 98, takes stock of the big picture

WAYNE THIEBAUD | Manetti Shrem Museum | VONN CUMMINGS SUMNER in Hyperallergic

14 Jul

Explore Wayne Thiebaud’s Evolving Influence at the Manetti Shrem Museum

The new exhibition Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation celebrates the UC Davis professor’s legacy at work today.Manetti Shrem Museumby Manetti Shrem Museum

Vonn Cummings Sumner, “Watching a Dumpster Fire” (2020), oil on canvas over panel, 14 3/4 x 16 x 1 inches (image courtesy the artist © Vonn Sumner)

The profound influence of longtime UC Davis art professor Wayne Thiebaud on a new generation of contemporary artists is the focus of a multi-faceted exhibition currently on view at the Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, at the University of California, Davis.

The professor emeritus, who turned 100 in November 2020, first joined the university’s fledgling art department in 1959. Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation explores how Thiebaud forecast the future of painting through his personal journey to find meaning and reinvention in the medium’s history — and inspired his students to do the same. “He found his voice at a very volatile time in the art world,” said Manetti Shrem Founding Director Rachel Teagle. “Painting as a medium and practice was dead. Wayne championed a new path forward.” 

Think of this group exhibition as Thiebaud’s classroom operating across time and place, where works of art reverberate with the flow of shared ideas. 19 exhibiting artists reflect the breadth of Thiebaud’s influence and honor his dedication to practicing the fundamentals; his penchant to paint the people, places, and objects of daily life; and his passion for looking to the history of art as a source of inspiration. 

Andrea Bowers, Robert Colescott, Alex Israel, Jason Stopa, Jonas Wood, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye are featured alongside 13 mid- and late-career artists who studied with Thiebaud in the classroom and independently: Julie Bozzi, Christopher Brown, Gene Cooper, Richard Crozier, April Glory Funcke, Fredric Hope, Grace Munakata, Bruce Nauman, Vonn Cummings Sumner, Ann Harrold Taylor, Michael Tompkins, Clay Vorhes, and Patricia Wall.

Together these artists chart an alternate course of how painting makes meaning in the 21st century. 

On view through November 12, 2021. Book a timed ticket to visit or experience the exhibition through its digital companion website at manettishrem.org.

Available Artwork by VONN CUMMINGS SUMNER

VONN SUMNER in “Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation” on view January – June 2021 at Jan Shrem and Maria Manetti Shrem Museum of Art

26 Oct

Wayne Thiebaud Influencer: A New Generation

The profound influence of Wayne Thiebaud on a new generation of artists is front and center in this celebration of the longtime UC Davis art professor’s centennial. Pairings explore how Thiebaud forecast the future of painting through his personal journey to find meaning and reinvention in the medium’s history in ways that are both current and timeless. Works by contemporary artists who have been inspired by Thiebaud as a fellow painter as well as those of former students reveal unexpected connections and sources of inspiration.

Curators: Rachel Teagle and Susie Kantor

An exhibition featuring
Andrea Bowers, Julie Bozzi (’74, MFA ’76), Christopher Brown (MFA ’76), Robert Colescott, Gene Cooper, Richard Crozier (MFA ’74), Fredric Hope, Alex Israel, Grace Munakata (’80, MFA ’85), Bruce Nauman (MA, ’66), Jason Stopa, Vonn Cummings Sumner (’98, MFA ’00), Ann Harrold Taylor (MFA ’85), Michael Tompkins (’81, MFA ’83), Clay Vorhes, Patricia Wall (’72), Jonas Wood and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

On view January 31–June 13, 2021

Available Artwork by VONN SUMNER

Morton Fine Art, 52 O St NW #302, Washington, DC 20001

(202) 628-2787 (text or call)

info@mortonfineart.com

mortonfineart.com

VONN SUMNER’s solo “New Ancient Pictures” at Morton Fine Art

10 Nov

Neo Byzantine Square, 24"x24", oil on canvas

Neo Byzantine Square, 24″x24″, oil on canvas

New Ancient Pictures

A solo exhibition of oil paintings by VONN SUMNER
Friday, November 6th – November 24th, 2015

OPENING RECEPTION 
Friday, November 6th 6pm-8pm
ARTIST TALK
Saturday, November 21st 3pm-4pm

Pink Theatre, 24"x24", oil on panel

Pink Theatre, 24″x24″, oil on panel

EXHIBITION LOCATION

Morton Fine Art (MFA)
1781 Florida Ave NW (at 18th & U Sts)
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 628-2787
mortonfineart@gmail.com
HOURS

Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 6pm
Sunday 12pm-5pm

Warrior Moving, 2015, 12"x12", oil on panel

Warrior Moving, 2015, 12″x12″, oil on panel

About New Ancient Pictures
In the Spring of 2011, at the Phillips Collection here in Washington, I saw an exhibition of Philip Guston’s paintings made while he was traveling in Rome in 1971. Around the same time I came across the idea that in the original Homeric tales of the Iliad and the Odyssey there is no mention of the color “blue”-that even though those stories take place under skies and over oceans, the color palette of those stories is mostly: red, yellow, black, grey and white. That idea, whether true or not, was exciting to me and related directly to the palette that Guston was using in the Roma pictures. All of this coincided with a time in my life when I have moved several times between states, and across coasts, so that somehow the mythic tales of Homer and the aesthetic travels of Guston felt personally related to my own search for a sense of ‘home’, for personal transformation, and for a feeling of artistic renewal. The paintings in this show are a result of those artistic influences, mixed with my own subjective experience of our shared, observable world.
-VONN SUMNER
 
Mirror, 26.25″x20.75″, oil on canvas
Vonn Sumner in his studio, Courtesy of the Artist
About VONN SUMNER
 
“Vonn Sumner’s fine paintings are equivocal visual wonders. They are painted worlds that reflect a bright clarity interrupted by mysterious bewilderments.
Ideas and concepts are overwhelmed by empathic feelings suspending us in a tension between answers and questions provoking and teasing us into a long and careful looking…perhaps, the look of a lifetime?”
~Wayne Thiebaud, 2015
 
VONN CUMMINGS SUMNER grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area,
the son of a picture framer in an artistic family. Frequent trips to museums as well as travel in Europe, Central America and India, shaped Sumner’s visual aesthetic during his formative years. He attended the University of California at Davis, where he earned both a Bachelor’s degree and an M.F.A. in painting. While at UC Davis he worked closely with Wayne Thiebaud  both as a student and as a teaching assistant. He also took summer classes at the San Francisco Art Institute and is influenced by the Bay Area Figurative movement that centered around that school in the postwar period.
Sumner has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1997. He has been featured or reviewed in many publications including NewAmerican Paintings, Elle Décor, The Washington Post, L.A. Weekly, Art Ltd., Riviera magazine, Hi Fructose, Juxtapoz, Cartwheel, and featured on the cover of Boom magazine and Quick Fiction. Sumner has had two solo museum exhibitions – Vonn Sumner: The Other Side of Here– at the Riverside Art Museum in 2008 and Vonn Sumner: Stages,  in 2011 at the Phillips Museum of Art in Pennsylvania .

Late Empire Style

10 Aug

Morton Fine Art (MFA) presents Late Empire Style, a solo exhibition of new paintings by artist Vonn Sumner. The exhibition will be on display at Morton Fine Art from September 16 through October 7, 2011. The opening reception will be held on September 16th from 6 to 8 pm with the artist in attendance.

Vonn Sumner (b. Palo Alto, CA; paintings and drawings): his fancifully eccentric characters appear in paintings which invite the viewer into a strange and isolated parallel world. Vonn Sumner’s markedly West Coast aesthetic was honored with a solo museum exhibition, The Other Side of Here, at Riverside Art Museum in late 2008. His solo show Late Empire Style at MFA runs concurrently with the artist’s second museum solo exhibition Stages at The Phillips Museum of Art in Pennsylvania. An understudy of Wayne Thiebaud, Vonn Sumner received his MFA from the University of California, Davis. His work has been shown in numerous galleries in the U.S. and Europe.

Vonn Sumner – New Paintings & Other Exciting News

10 Mar

I am pleased to announce the arrival of two new paintings, ‘Byzantine’ and ‘Gray Totem’, by artist Vonn Sumner.  Mentored by renowned California painter Wayne Thiebauld, Vonn Sumner had his first museum solo exhibition, “The Other Side of Here”, at the Riverside Art Museum in 2008.  He now gears up for a second museum solo exhibition  at The Phillips Museum of Art in Pennsylvania in 2011.

Vonn Sumner's 'Byzantine', oil on panel, 19.25"x16"

Vonn Sumner's 'Byzantine', oil on panel, 19.25"x16"

Vonn Sumner's 'Grey Totem', oil on panel, 20"x16"

Vonn Sumner's 'Grey Totem', oil on panel, 20"x16"

Influenced by Renaissance art, Vonn Sumner is well known for otherworldly figurative narratives, oftentimes originating in costumed self portraits.  As curator Peter Frank notes, ” the decision to generate the costumes himself…has allowed the artist to burrow much deeper into the eccentricities of this characters and their idiosyncratic inner lives. They are resonant precisely because they turn inwards, rather than project their energies out into an uncaring and voracious contemporary media sphere.”

The Journey of the Magi (1435), by Sassetta

The Journey of the Magi (1435), by Sassetta

Attached is a slide show of work currently on loan to The Phillips Museum of Art for Vonn Sumner’s September 2011 museum show, which will run concurrently with the artist’s September solo exhibition at MFA!

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