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In the early 1960s the American artist Lee Lozano executed a series of drawings of everyday tools. She drew crow bars, hammers, wrenches and vices in tightly-framed compositions where the tools take on a monumental aspect, even though the drawings, executed in a combination of pencil and conte crayon, are modest in size. 

These drawings led to a group of large oil paintings. The slightly distorted forms in the drawings – a bulkiness in the proportions of the tools – is exaggerated even further in the paintings, where the tools flex and buckle as if animated by their own actions of banging, screwing and pressing. The series was interpreted by critics as having a socio-political significance, as a female artist used a masculine subject in a parody of phallocentrism.  

Seen together the drawings have the feeling of an inventory, and a group of them have stayed together in the collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Yet Lozano did not refer to this series as an archive. Perhaps the sense of documentation is incidental, and the artist was more motivated to allow each object to undergo a transformation through drawing and painting. Lozano’s tools take on almost human characteristics of fleshiness and mobility. 

Brief bio of Lee Lozano:

This link offers many images of Lee Lozano’s Tools:

This link is to an exhibition walk-through of  Lee Lozano: Tools at Hauser and Wirth Gallery, New York, 2011.