Yvonne Todd

untitled

c. 1995
gelatin silver print
110mm x 140mm

Provenance

Private collection, Auckland. Gifted by the artist to the present owner.

Essay

By now, the narrative surrounding Yvonne Todd’s career has become part of the enduring mythology of New Zealand art. As Megan Dunn notes, Todd’s surprise win at the inaugura...

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Estimate $400 - $700
Achieved $600.63

Yvonne Todd

untitled

c. 1995

gelatin silver print

110mm x 124mm

Auction N˚5

Estimate $400 - $700

Achieved $540.56

Footnotes
  1. Megan Dunn, “Close to You: the Yvonne Todd Story,” in Creamy Psychology (Wellington: Victoria University Press, 2014), 45.
  2. Anthony Byrt, “Sons and Lovers: Yvonne Todd’s Gilbert Melrose Project,” in Creamy Psychology, 92.

Yvonne Todd: Early Works

by Andrew Clark

By now, the narrative surrounding Yvonne Todd’s career has become part of the enduring mythology of New Zealand art. As Megan Dunn notes, Todd’s surprise win at the inaugural Walters Prize was positioned at the time as a shocking, upset win for a “shore girl” made good, an ex- wig-shop attendant, receptionist and strip club waitress who won a major art award.1 Coupled to this tendency to emphasise Todd’s biography is a similar tendency to elide the practice which gives rise to the images themselves; it sometimes seems as though her oeuvre sprang onto the scene as a fully-formed entity, complete and self-sufficient. However, this is far from being the case, as is demonstrated by this selection of her early work. Here, many of the ideas and themes explored in Todd’s mature practice can be seen, although in their formative stages.

These photographs initially present themselves as candid, voyeuristic snaps, relics of boozy weekends or perhaps tawdry, voyeuristic magazine shoots. However, like Cindy Sherman’s seminal Untitled Film Stills series (1977-80), closer inspection reveals the artificiality of these scenarios: they are designed to highlight their own performativity, their excessive nature becoming a fragility that hides an emptiness, a mask that conceals not the face, but another mask. These works directly prefigure Todd’s 1998 Thrombosis work, which similarly enacts a deliberately performed aura of seediness, presenting a series of vignettes as though they were snapshots dredged from the bottom of a cluttered drawer. Like Thrombosis, most of these early works are silver gelatin prints, a marked contrast to the lush colour she would employ later. However, Todd never entirely abandoned monochrome, returning to black and white for a number of works including Tide (2003) and Roba (2004).