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Joanne Tod’s Bard

Joanne Tod’s Bard

November 18, 2002–January 11, 2003

University of Toronto Art Centre

Contemporary artist Joanne Tod has used the current fascination with the Sanders Portrait, which may depict Shakespeare and which was recently displayed at the Art Centre (November 13 to 16, 2002), as a point of departure for her own investigations. Tod explores aspects of contemporary art practice, the impact of recent imaging technologies, our culture’s understanding of the nature of art, and the status of the “original” artwork.

Tod’s “authentic portrait of Bard” is a patent absurdity. There was obviously no real attempt at forgery or sleight of hand. No-one, for an instant, would mistake Bard as a picture dating from the early 17th Century. Despite the coincidence of image, of dimensions, of holes gouged along the top edge, Bard is glaringly contemporary, a painting whose achingly white canvas edge and clean stretcher scream its recent origins.

She created Bard in part by taking notes in front of the Sanders Portrait, but also by relying on the (by mass media standards) large-scale and lavishly illustrated reproductions of the Sanders Portrait in Toronto newspapers and on the internet. On September 8, 2001 Tod put Bard up for auction on eBay with a reserve of $1000. She also digitally reproduced her painting on a card, described it as “an authentic portrait of Bard” and invited recipients to “bid_on_bard” on eBay.

Tod’s work (i.e. the painting and the performance) like that of Marcel Duchamp, and of course, Shakespeare, is full of convolutions, of romans à clef, in-jokes, and verbal puns. Again, like both Duchamp and Shakespeare, it bespeaks a certain cheerful opportunism, but it is none-the-less intriguing, multi-layered and ambivalent.

Artist Talk

Beholding the Bard: A Dialogue Between Joanne Tod and Alan H. Nelson
Featuring Joanne Tod and Alan H. Nelson
Thursday November 14, 2002, 5-7pm
University of Toronto Art Centre
Reserved Admission $50


Title Image: Joanne Tod, Bard, 2002. Oil on canvas. 46 x 36 cm.