On the heels of April Fools Day and my last post about Jason Peters, I wanted to write about Tom Friedman (1965), an artist with a sense of humor. Friedman is best known for creating sculptures out of everyday materials: toothpaste, laundry detergent, sugar cubes, Pepto-Bismol and more. While I most admire the painstakingly labor-intensive and time-consuming craftsmanship he employs in his work, I don’t always love the finished product.
For example, while its fun to realize that Image 1 is a self-portrait Freidman carved out of a single tablet of aspirin, at the end of the day it’s a silly little aspirin. I feel the same way about Image 2, a sculpture made of hole punches, and Image 3, a perfect sphere molded out of 500 pieces of chewing gum.
A more successful work to me is Image 4, a starbust-like sculpture made out of thousands of toothpicks, because the sculpture is visually stunning and therefore can stand on its own without the toothpick gimmick.
Freidman’s art is clearly full of jokes, but they’re the kind without a lot of substance, or what the comedy world might refer to as “one liner.”