Artist Todd Schorr has earned broad recognition as a master painter. The style and influences of his complex narrative painting have been attributed from a multitude of sources from Northern Renaissance to 18th and 19th century Romantic painters. Schorr combines a complex contemporary imagery with an illustrative style. His intricate narratives are both relevant and relatable. Todd Schorr: Atomic Cocktail takes a closer look at the connection between the synthesis of visual culture from the artist’s childhood and his current pictorial language. Popular culture clearly had a significant impact on young Schorr. From the beginning of the nuclear age, signs, logos, cartoon characters, monsters and mascots have all worked to create a massive societal spectacle. Madison Avenue and both television and cinema have had a profound effect on Western culture’s visual language. Schorr paintings feel like both an exorcism and celebration of that culture.

Like other masters in the arc of art history, Schorr culls the signs of our culture and places them in a new context: Tony the Tiger, Bob’s Big Boy, and Smokey the Bear become joined as part of a firebreathing Hydra. Aliens, as movie Western Indians, ride across a desert plain. A primitive hominid gathers Betty Boop, Batman, and Howdy Doody in a sack like an ancient Santa Claus. Often, amid these spectacles, idles a small boy, acting as avatar for the artist.

This exhibition will highlight a mix of Schorr’s iconic paintings, new works that have never been shown to the public as well as sculpture, and preparatory studies. It will explore, in depth, Schorr’s critical dialogue of Western visual culture as it impacted his own visual lexicon and ours.


Todd Schorr was born in New Jersey in 1954.  He attended the Philadelphia College of Art (University of the Arts) and graduated with a degree in illustration. He began work as an illustrator while in college. Upon graduation in 1976, Schorr moved to New York City to begin his professional illustration career. His oeuvre included album covers, movie posters and magazine covers. AC/DC,  George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Time magazine were some of his clients.

In the mid-eighties, Schorr began his break from illustration so he could focus on his fine art painting. He took part in the 1986 landmark exhibition American Pop Culture Images Today at the Laforet Museum in Tokyo, Japan. This set him on a path that allowed him to end his illustration career. In 1992, Schorr had first solo show at the Tamara Bane Gallery in Los Angeles. Schorr and his wife relocated to Los Angeles in 1999. Today, Schorr  is represented by KP Projects Gallery, has exhibitions and is in collections all over the world

Todd Schorr: Atomic Cocktail is organized by the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art and curated by Heather Hakimzadeh and Alison Byrne. The exhibition will open at the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art on Friday, September 21, 2018 and will travel to two-to-three additional museums thereafter.

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