Selected works by Tom Thayer

Tom Thayer


Corrugated cardboard, crayon, masking tape, string, and wire

Dimensions variable

He has said that he aims to “isolate and extract some of our most touching qualities about being alive, and examine them for a moment.” Using corrugated cardboard loosely coloured in crayon, Thayer constructs spindly variants on birds of various kinds, suspending them from strings like marionettes.

Tom Thayer
Nature Scene


Mixed media

186 x 239 cm

Tom Thayer’s work is both literally light and is about the condition of lightness: birds, appropriately, are his chosen metaphor. Like the sculptor Brancusi, who made use of birds’ associative qualities – soaring, skimming, diving – as the visual correlative of the modern mind, Thayer finds parallels between his subject’s physical delicacy and a human sense of fragility and transience.

Tom Thayer
Crossing the Methane River


Paint, ink, pigments, graphite, crayon, collage on cardboard, wire, string, wood, felt, cloth

156.2 x 123.2 x 6.4 cm

The sculptures’ fragile construction and susceptibility to small breezes – even the movement of visitors to the gallery causes minor nods and swivels – demands a certain kind of engagement from the viewer: the cautious contemplation of one unwilling to disturb a creature in its natural habitat.

Tom Thayer
Callow Air's Veil


Paint, ink, pigments, crayon, graphite, sewing, felt, wire, string, cardboard, monk`s cloth

190.5 x 122.2 x 14.6 cm

Thayer’s interest is in the transformative power of visual art: found scraps of paper become lyrical metaphor, and works on the wall seem to overstep their boundaries, as though slipping between the real and imagined.

Tom Thayer
Bough Geometry


Paint, ink, pigments, crayon, graphite on cardboard, wire, string, wood, tape

53.3 x 86.4 x 45.7 cm
Tom Thayer


Paint, ink, pigments, crayon, graphite and sewing on felt and monk`s cloth

135 x 172 x 4 cm

Text by Ben Street


January 2011, by Roberta Smith, The New York Times

His New York solo debut at Tracy Williams is dominated by the spindly folded-paper birds suggestive of failed origami that are something of a Thayer hallmark; they appear as puppet-sculptures, attached to painted surfaces and perched in and around a large paper tree in “Nature Scene,” a wall piece. They also mingle with other animals and the occasional human form in the lo-fi stop-action animation titled “Phantasmagoria,” which plays on a small, ancient monitor and is accompanied, in part, by a stuck record.
Mr. Thayer’s art is ostentatiously low-tech, with all his objects doing double duty as animation prop or puppet. Preciousness is a constant threat, and so is obscurity, but Mr. Thayer’s ability to transform and amplify his modest artworks as they travel from one medium to another is little short of magical. Thus a small collage of a television set and a pair of hands holding a remote, on view at Williams, also appears, much enlarged, luridly colored and activated, in a video projection nearby. The video figures in and partly records two performances Mr. Thayer orchestrated in the gallery the week his show opened.
If the Williams show has the feeling of a pleasantly deranged studio visit, things are a little more focused at the Derek Eller Gallery (615 West 27th Street), where 11 collage-drawings made and revised by Mr. Thayer over the last five years are on view. Featuring more of the cut and folded figures, animals and birds, and wonderful drawn passages, they appear at Eller in a satisfying face-off with the sliced-and-spliced photographs of Adam Marnie (through Feb. 5). All have been used in Mr. Thayer’s animations and performance animations, including “Phantasmagoria” in the Williams show and in his collaborations with Dave Miko, on view in “Dave Miko and Tom Thayer: New World Pig” at the Kitchen.