On view February 16–June 26, 2016

Tom Friedman, The Flute Player, inspired by the ancient terra-cotta sculpture in the Mead's collection

A life-size sculpture by Tom Friedman (left) corresponds to an ancient Greek figurine from the Mead collection (right).

This special exhibition unveils new works by renowned conceptual artist Tom Friedman, and marks the first time Friedman has drawn artistic inspiration directly from a museum collection. The works on view correspond to existing works in the Mead’s permanent collection, and represent a contemporary dialogue with art from the past, in ways that introduce subtexts, narratives and new ways of thinking about the Mead’s art collection. 

An ancient Greek terracotta figurine, the bequest of William R. Mead, an 1867 Amherst graduate, inspired Friedman’s life-size sculpture in Styrofoam and paint (pictured above), while a wood pagoda from eighth-century Japan has been recast in acrylic. Other works Friedman reimagines include one of the Mead’s masterpieces, Monet’s Morning on the Seine (1897), and Dorothea Lange’s Migrant Pea Pickers (1938).

Friedman works in a range of media, most famously using Styrofoam and paint to sculpt objects that resonate with contemporary audiences, such as pizza, a cardboard box and Hostess treats. Other works include abstract pieces in yarn and figures constructed from stainless steel, most recently Looking Up, a large-scale (over 30 feet high) figure gazing skyward.

Originally from St. Louis, Missouri, Friedman earned degrees from Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Illinois at Chicago. His work has appeared in numerous solo and group exhibitions, and is in the permanent collections of major museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. He lives in Massachusetts and teaches in the graduate program in art at UMass Amherst.


Opening Reception with artist Tom Friedman
Tuesday, Feb. 16, 6 p.m.

Evening at the Mead with artist Tom Friedman
Thursday, May 5, 6:30 p.m.



This exhibition was organized by Vanja Malloy, curator of American art. Assistance was provided by Tom Friedman Studio and Luhring Augustine, New York. The exhibition is presented with generous support from the Hall and Kate Peterson Fund. 

Images: (Left) Tom Friedman, Untitled (Flute Player), 2016. Styrofoam, paint, cotton shirt, socks, and flip-flops, 66 x 25 x 49 in. © Tom Friedman. Image courtesy of Tom Friedman Studio. (Right) Greek, Flying Flute Player, Myrina type, 2nd century BCE (late). Terracotta, 13 5/8 x 5 3/8 x 8 5/8 in. Bequest of the William R. Mead (Class of 1867) Estate. M.1936.3