Whitney Biennial 2017
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Narrator: Torey Thornton takes a wide-ranging approach to the medium of painting. Some of his works are paint on canvas, straightforwardly recognizable as paintings. But he also produces more sculptural forms—often incorporating readymade objects—that stretch the definition of what a painting can be. Here, he began by having a mattress fabricated so that he could paint on it. Torey Thornton.

Torey Thornton: When I was talking to the makers of the mattress, they were like do you want it to be more shallow, what are you going to do to it? And a lot of times I don’t even want to talk to people about that stuff, because they get too involved. The point of it is almost like a readymade object. I was really interested in it being a literal mattress and not this illustration or fabricated thing. I wanted it to be a utilitarian surface. I didn’t think about it so hard, but there is a relationship obviously to intimacy and the bed. So there is a play with that, which I didn’t think about until now. I was just attracted to how it looked—like an insane asylum room with the quilting and padding.

The cross is also the T, which is also the initial for both of my names, so I saw it as this strange, slightly comical signature. Just thinking about the vanity of making art, and the idea of using the letter of your name as an actual symbol and trying to own that.

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