Carroll Dunham (b. 1949, New Haven, CT) has eschewed the conventions of abstract and figurative painting, establishing a trademark style and vast body of work that are both deeply original and enormously influential. His early works, painted on wood veneer, used the existing textures of the knotted grain to create elaborate compositions recalling both fantastic organic forms and the popular imagery of cartoons. Mining the unconscious and variously pursuing psychologically and sexually charged themes, these psychedelic depictions evolved over the years from primordial amoeba-like forms to quasi-figurative biomorphisms to his now iconic vivid nudes with graphically rendered sexual organs in saturated landscapes. A formalist by nature, Dunham’s paintings and drawings are studies in control—his line has become a protagonist in itself—nothing is accidental, whether executed in gentle pencil shading, audacious crayon scribble, or painterly ink and gouache.
As curator Johanna Burton put it in describing his 2002 retrospective at the New Museum, “Dunham’s paintings are the products of an ongoing shamanistic brew: one part art history, one part Punch and Judy, one part hallucinogen, and two parts time clocked on the analyst’s couch.”
Dunham currently lives and works in New York and Connecticut. His work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at international museums and institutions including at the Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO (2014); Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany (2009); Millesgården, Stockholm, Sweden (2008); Drammens Museum, Drammen, Norway (2006); and a mid-career retrospective was held at the New Museum, New York, NY (2002). His work is represented in notable public collections including the Albertina Museum, Vienna, Austria; Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL; Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo, Norway; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA; Saint Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, MO; Tate Gallery, London, UK; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MI; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY among others.
Carroll Dunham: Wrestlers
Carroll Dunham: Thought Process
Carroll Dunham: A Drawing Survey
Carroll Dunham: Painting & Sculpture 2004-2008