Twisted Toy Paintings

Twisted Toy Paintings is a collection of Pop Surrealist paintings of toys by Ellen Lustig. The series features quirky paintings of toys caught up in fantastical predicaments which can be considered twisted. The idea for the series was to use toys as the subject matter when it first debuted in 2007. 

The original paintings are made with vibrant acrylic paint on Masonite or canvas. Popular toys—many from the baby boomer generation—as well as more modern toys are contrasted with everyday situations The series frequently has hilarious scenarios and dreamlike elements. Due to its cartoonish style, the collection may initially look childish, yet its messages are actually about serious issues.

Cartoon animation and the actual toys themselves served as inspiration for the series' vibrant colors. Each painting's strange quality relies on Ellen's imagination. By removing the toys from their setting, a different association is created for each toy. In the painting "Aging Barbie", the viewer is forced to fill in the blanks of her thought bubbles. The pervasive humor in these paintings is evident an gives them a cartoon-like essence. 

Some of the toys bring back memories of the artist's childhood playthings. When I was younger, my favorites were Cooties, Pez, and Crazy Ikes. Both their slick plastic forms and their hues lend themselves perfectly to Lustig's color pallet. Since Ellen Lustig has spent her entire life creating caricatures and cartoons, incorporating them into her artwork comes naturally to her. Click the button below to read more about Ellen's history.