Interview: Ann Toebbe
Ann Toebbe hat einen sehr eigenen und interessanten Stil: eine flache, zweidimensionale Welt, in der sich alles auf einer einzigen Ebene abzuspielen scheint, als hätte man ein Puppenhaus von oben aufgeklappt. Im Rahmen der Diskursdisko-Interviews befragte ich sie zu Ihrer Arbeit…
I learned what it really meant to be an artist when I moved away from my hometown and started art school in Cleveland.
Diskursdisko: Hi Ann. To start things off, what’s your background? When did you start making artwork?
Ann Toebbe: I knew I wanted to be an artist in kindergarten and I liked to draw in high school, really tight and detailed still lives or amalgams of images from magazine, but I didn’t know anything about art history or contemporary art.
I learned what it really meant to be an artist when I moved away from my hometown and started art school in Cleveland, OH.
I think I made my first artwork in a summer program called Chautauqua when I was 20. It was a series of mono prints about my large extended family in Kentucky. There was a lot of eating and beer drinking in the images.
When I look at art I admire what the artist has accomplished and try to imagine how it came about that they would make this or that piece.
Diskursdisko: How do you mainly produce your art?
Ann Toebbe: I am a painter. I use gouache or oil paint and sometimes I combine the two. I also draw a lot, and sometimes I use hand painted cut paper. Traditional materials: brushes, paint, pencils, scissors, and glue.
Diskursdisko: What inspires you?
Ann Toebbe: When I look at art I admire what the artist has accomplished and try to imagine how it came about that they would make this or that piece. I paint because I am not good at complicating things or complicated things, like conceptual art or video. I like painting because it is about getting things organized. I paint from memory and I use the routines and repetitions and the sameness of everyday life as inspiration because the more time I spend in place the better I can remember it. At this point I am also a pretty routine person and I like to have a home and be at home.
Diskursdisko: A lot of your work has a very pop art look, while at the same time often reminding me of Van Gogh. What’s the connection for you? Do you feel especially inspired by either of these?
Ann Toebbe: I feel connected to Van Gogh. I think Van Gogh might even be a bit pop at this point with all the posters of his work out there.
I have been to the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and The Yale Art Gallery has “Night Cafe” in its collection and I know I have seen a bunch of his paintings elsewhere. My favorites are actually the paintings he did of the forest floor while he was committed in an asylum. They are really intense and beautiful.
People connect me to pop art all the time. I see a connection to some early pop artists, like Claas Oldenburg, making everyday objects into art, but Andy Warhol is way cooler than me and I could never stick a bed sheet on my painting.
Diskursdisko: Your paintings have a very interesting flat look, with everything seemingly on one level. How did you arrive at this style?
Ann Toebbe: After art school I moved to New York City and worked on my own in a studio in Brooklyn. I made sculpture for awhile then started drawing and eventually started painting. All my drawings were done from memory and things were awkward and flat and I started playing with perspective. I received some criticism for the drawings having a naive look but I just kept pushing this style because that was how I drew things, it felt right to me, and when I tried other techniques, like observation, the work looked dead and empty.
I look at a lot of art online, and I use the internet as a teaching resource, but I am not on my computer as much as most people.
Diskursdisko: You’ve obviously got the website at anntoebbe.com, any other presences on the web you’d like to publicize? Social networking?
Ann Toebbe: I recently published two images of my paintings as prints with 20 x 200.
Diskursdisko: As you use the internet to showcase your art, are there any other websites you feel have influenced you, opened your mind or shown you new ways of creating art?
Ann Toebbe: Hmmm. I look at a lot of art online, mainly because I live in Chicago now, and I use the internet as a teaching resource, but I am not on my computer as much as most people. I do check out things that people send my way but I haven’t used the internet as a tool for making my work.
Diskursdisko: Of all the work you’ve created, or at least the ones showcased on your website, can you name a couple that you have a special love for or connection to?
Ann Toebbe: Red Plastic Plates, because it is about my parents insisting on serving dinner on red plastic plates and I was so angry at that dinner, they were meeting my husband for the first time, and now I can see how funny it really was.
St. Dominic, because this is the church I went to growing up. I spent a lot of time there trying to sleep or spacing out.
Attic Sleepovers, because it took a long time to make and my family and a lot of other people love this piece and it ended up in a collection in Texas and I don’t really know who owns it.
My daughter Olive was born last May. Now I spend a lot of time cleaning up so my new work is about housekeeping.
Diskursdisko: Do you have any specific plans for the future direction of your artwork?
Ann Toebbe: My daughter Olive was born last May. Now I spend a lot of time cleaning up so my new work is about housekeeping.
Diskursdisko: Ann, many thanks for the interview – is there anything you’d like to add?
Ann Toebbe: I spent a year in Berlin on a DAAD in 04/05. I got to know the gallery scene there through a few more established artists and met some young German artists who were at Universität der Kunst.
I really felt like an American artist while I was in Germany, meaning I didn’t feel connected to the work that I was seeing or the ideas. The work was much more ephemeral on a certain level with lots of hazy photo copies and intentionally shoddy installations.
I make tightly crafted paintings about my family in Ohio. The work in Berlin that was German felt very purposeful and intellectual and I felt very folky and sentimental.
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