Pure Invention: Tom Friedman

October 25, 2006 - December 31, 2006
Kemper Art Museum, College of Art Gallery


The artwork of St. Louis native and Washington University College of Art alumnus Tom Friedman (BFA88) has been exhibited extensively in the United States and internationally. A showcase of his work organized by College of Art faculty member Michael Byron, Pure Invention is the inaugural exhibition in the Kemper Art Museum's College of Art Gallery. A mix of sculpture, installation pieces, and prints -- two of which were created at Washington University's Island Press -- the show offers an exciting opportunity to experience the work of this visionary contemporary artist. 

Friedman's quirky, beautiful work defies categorization. While his art is often linked to 1960s Conceptualism and Minimal art, Friedman invents his own visual language through his almost obsessive attentiveness to detail and his striking ability to transform the familiar into the unexpected. He uses common household materials such as aluminum foil, spaghetti, fishing line, hair, Styrofoam, and Play-Doh to create works that rearrange the viewers perceptions of the everyday environment. Friedman has created a caterpillar made from his own hair and, in another work, deconstructed thirty-six one-dollar bills to create the image of a single dollar bill. Also included in this exhibition is a life-size sculpture of a guitarist made from aluminum foil as well as spaghetti tossed on the wall. Often humorous and always inventive, Friedman's work raises questions about the making and seeing of art.

Friedman has exhibited in solo shows at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Stephen Friedman Gallery in London, and the Prada Foundation in Milan, Italy. Of his inclusion in the opening exhibitions of the new Kemper Art Museum building, Friedman says "It's an honor to have an exhibition that inaugurates the new museum on the campus where I spent my undergraduate years."