BEYOND ULTRAMAN: Seven Artists Explore the Vinyl Frontier

A collaboration between LATDA and The Pasadena Museum of California Art (PMCA).  October 10, 2007-January 6, 2008

The exhibition featured works by California artists Gary Baseman, Tim Biskup. David Gonzales, David Horvath + Sun-Min Kim, Brian McCarty and Mark Nagata.


The artists LATDA chose for this exhibition elevated the vinyl art toy movement by capturing the attention of two audiences: the mainstream art community and the toy community. Besides making toys based on their primary work as painters, illustrators and graphic designers, these seven artists incorporated and adapted marketing strategies from the toy industry.


In some cases these strategies combine with the artists’ narrative talents to establish a toy “brand,” such as David Gonzales’ Homies or David Horvath and Sun-Min Kim’s Uglydolls. In other cases, knowledge or passion for collecting vintage toys (Japanese vinyl toys in particular) has influenced how the toys are packaged and marketed. Tim Biskup, David Horvath and Mark Nagata combine collector-based knowledge with their art toy releases.

Although their work is strikingly different, both Gary Baseman and Brian McCarty create a culture where toy and art are entwined and exposed. Baseman does this by incorporating recurring characters throughout his many artistic expressions; there is no apparent source for a toy except for hints provided by a glimpse into his development process. McCarty, on the other hand, does this by creating original images where the toy is part of a new artistic vision.

As history demonstrates, other successful artists and designers have turned to toy design as an expression of creativity. Alexander Calder, Isamu Noguchi, Charles and Ray Eames all explored the connection between their art and toy design. But the artists and toys that appear in this exhibition signify a movement in artistic expression that, in a short time, has grown into a global community of creators, champions and collectors.