The work of Robyn Cumming

Robyn Cumming’s aesthetic can be described as Steel Magnolias gone awry, but in the best way possible. Working from the heaps and piles of the stereotypical female imagery we all know and love (or love-to-hate, depending on your own alignments), the Toronto-based artist creates a body of work exploring, exploiting, and evolving the ordinary into something a little more sinister, and far more eccentric. Her own clever bio sums it all up, quipping, “If [Cumming] were an emotion, [she] would be laughing that turns into coughing…and then dry-heave style crying.”

Decomposing iconography of womanhood and the clichés of femininity, she creates disturbing portraits of awkward, stiff figures, gorgeously delicate photographs of middle aged women, complete with mascara tears, and domestic interior landscapes of disturbed sixties suburbia, shag carpet and all.

[July 21, 1882]

"You really have to understand how I consider art. To reach the essence of it, you have to work long and hard. I want to make drawings that will touch people. Either in a figure, or in a landscape, I would like to express, not something sentimentally melancholy, but sincere sorrow.

In short, I want to get to a stage where it is said of my work: this man feels deeply, and this man is sensitive. Despite my so-called roughness, you understand, or perhaps just because of it.

It seems rather pretentious to talk like this, but that is the reason why I want to devote all my efforts to it.

What am I in the eyes of most people? A nonentity or an eccentric, or a disagreeable fellow— someone who has no position in society or will ever have one, in short, the lowest of the low.

Well, assuming that everything were exactly so, then I would like to show through my work what is in the heart of such an eccentric, such a nonentity.

That is my ambition, which in spite of everything is based less on anger than on love, based more on a feeling of serenity than on passion. Although I am often in trouble, there is inside me a serene, pure harmony and music. In the poorest hovel, in the grubbiest corner, I can see paintings or drawings. And as if compelled by an irresistible urge, my soul goes out in that direction.”

— Vincent van Gogh, Letters, 1875-1890


The Surpising Beauty Of The World’s Most Eccentric Hobby Clubs

Club, league, society. Troupe, corps, band. Association, organization, team. Whatever you call it, Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini want to photograph it. And the more eccentric your crew, the better.