May 11, 2021 · 12:45 PM

Date 2019
Image dimensions 223 x 247 cm
Technique/material Print on Tyvek, steel frame
Credit Collection Museum Haus Konstruktiv
Donated by the artist and GALERIE PHILIPPZOLLINGER
Inv. no. SK20005
Cassidy Toner

A Wall from the Atelier

Cassidy Toner (born 1992 in Baltimore, USA) once said she is obsessed with her own downfall, in the sense of “if your goal is to fail and you fail, have you failed?” In her exploration of themes such as desire, existence, downfall, and destructive patterns of behavior, the Swiss-American artist lets the idea define the medium. Essential philosophical questions are combined with elements borrowed from literature and pop culture to create sculptures, prints, drawings, paintings, and photographs that possess a touch of the humorous and the absurd. For example, she borrows a well-known character from the Looney Tunes cartoons familiar to kids for her series “Wile E. Coyote.” Yet her version could not be more different, as can be seen in titles like “Wile E. Coyote Crushed by the Weight of the World” (2018), “Desperately Searches for a Way Out of His Self-Destructive Behavior” (2018), and “Wonders What Keeps Him Going (He just read Camus’ The Myth of Sisyphus)” (2018). It is as if the greedy coyote thinks what he really wants more than anything is to catch the Road Runner, but the actual fulfillment of his deepest wish would, instead of bringing the expected feeling of triumph, cause a feeling of emptiness that culminates in self-destruction.
Her “A Wall from the Atelier” (2019) plays with the invisible fourth wall from theater, which here acts like a kind of see-through curtain separating the artist and her studio from the audience. The large tear in the stretched Tyvek breaches this boundary and invites beholders to enter the world on the other side. As Philipp Zollinger wrote in 2019, “The kinetic wall objects refers back to Ad Reinhardt’s cartoon ‘How to Look at a Cubist Painting’ (1946) where one viewer’s query ‘What does this represent?’ Is met with the anthropomorphized painting loudly responding: ‘What do you represent?’” By questioning art as a product of aesthetic principles, Toner provides room for a conversation and an exchange of ideas. This experience becomes part of how we perceive art. Looking at this square screen, Theo van Doesburg’s famous quote also comes to mind: “We speak of concrete and not abstract painting because nothing is more concrete, more real than a line, a color, a surface.” One can only wonder what he would have said about Toner’s square wall works with torn surfaces.

Ruth C. Kistler




With financial support by:

Lotteriefonds Canton of Zurich

Baugarten Stiftung
Ernst Göhner Stiftung
Dr. Adolph Streuli-Stiftung
Stiftung Kunstsammlung Albert und Melanie Rüegg



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May 11, 2021
12:45:00 PM CEST