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Mark Mothersbaugh, Myopia

David Colosi talks with Mark Mothersbaugh about MyopiaMutato Muzika, broken instruments and De-evolution. Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia, collects for the first time a representative body of Mothersbaugh’s visual and audio artwork before and after his seminal work with DEVO. The exhibition is on view at The Grey Art Gallery at New York University from April 26 - July 15, 2017.


Mark Mothersbaugh has been part of the contemporary art conversation since the 1970s. As an art student at Kent State during the charged movement of war protests and the killing of fellow students on May 4, 1970 by the National Guard, Mothersbaugh co-founded the paradigm-shifting band DEVO.

Since that seminal period he has consistently challenged and redefined boundaries in music and visual art with a keen eye on social commentary, political awareness and self-controlled marketing. Spanning the punk and MTV eras, Mothersbaugh and DEVO mastered the concept of image construction through costumes, video and electronic music technology, and merchandising with a healthy dose of humor. Mothersbaugh parlayed his avant-garde musical background into a leading role in scoring for filmed and animated entertainment, interactive media and commercials.

His credits and awards as a composer include work with Paul Reubens and Wes Anderson and productions like Pee Wee’s Playhouse, 21 Jump Street, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Rushmore, The Royal Tenenbaums, The Life Aquatic, the Rugrats franchise and Yo Gabba Gabba where he can be seen as the Art teacher.

Committing himself to art making over celebrity, Mark has consistently maintained a visual practice through drawing, collage, postcards, notebooks, photography, constructed static and interactive musical and media objects and environments. For the first time, this exhibition situates his visual art practice from DADA to Jeff Koons and with comparable rustbelt connections between Mark’s Ohio roots to Warhol’s Pittsburgh with parallel lines drawn to Robert Williams and Raymond Pettibon and others in the Los Angeles scene where Mark and Mutato Muzika are based.

Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia was organized by the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver and travelled to Minneapolis Institute of Arts; Contemporary Art Center, Cincinnati Art Museum; The Austin Contemporary; Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland/Akron Art Museum and will be on view at The Grey Art Gallery at New York University from April 26 - July 15, 2017. You can see more of Mothersbaugh's artwork on his website

David Colosi, with the accompaniment of Jake Nussbaum, compiled a DEVO tribute in conjunction with this interview. You can listen to it here

Photo Credit: 

PortraitCourtesy of Mark Mothersbaugh

50-FOOT-TALL SCALE MODELS OF PROPOSED FAREWELL ARCHES TO LUXEMBOURG CITY, painted fiberglass, (2014), Courtesy of Mark Mothersbaugh

POSTCARDS, (2016), Myopia Exhibition detail, Courtesy of Mark Mothersbaugh  

Untitled ROLI POLI, ink on ceramics, (2014), Courtesy of Mark Mothersbaugh 

, painted ink jet prints, (2015), Courtesy of Mark Mothersbaugh 

These images and more can be found on



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