Carroll Dunham, ‘Green Flowers (5)’, 2010, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
"Drawing is the literal and figurative lifeline of Carroll Dunham’s art. For him imagining drawing and drawing imagination cannot be separated, nor can formal deliberation and spontaneous invention. More emphatically than any of his generational peers Dunham renounced the bans imposed on the subjective acts of the hand the artists Pop and Minimal in the 1960s. With lyric vengeance he has reinstated the erotics of art.” (Klaus Kurtess, “Drawn into Consciousness,” Carroll Dunham: Paintings, New York, 2003, p. 26) Undercurrents of rude sexuality and unstable eroticism, masculinity, colorful violence, comic aggression and conspicuously bad taste have been fibers in the tapestry of Carroll Dunham’s artwork from the very beginning; since the early 1980s these elements have seeped from the surfaces of paintings that marry the graphic qualities of Pop with the process-oriented approach of conceptualism and wash over both with the impolite lustfulness of painterly gesture in a career-long conflation of abstract and figurative styles.

Despite lingering hints of the organic, wood-grain forms that characterized his early abstract work, more recent pieces such as Green Flowers (5), 2010, tend toward a crisper, cleaner figuration, depicting violent, intensely animated dystopias in simple, childlike terms reminiscent of comic illustration. Here a simple tree has taken on perverse proportions with no clear perspective, leaves and flowers erupt from the boughs and up from the ground with seemingly reckless abandon. The whole earth is an abstraction cut through with Dunham’s particular figurative elements. Green Flowers (5) is a charged abomination imbued with Twombly-esque whorls, Warhol-like daisies and Nauman’s body impolitic. While teased with recognizable imagery, the characters in Dunham’s paintings occupy a unique territory somewhere between form and formlessness. The current lot is a defining example of how the content in Dunham’s paintings is replete with contradictions, defying easy categorization, eschewing genres, and pushing the boundaries of taste.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: signed "C. Dunham" lower right; further dated "April-June 2010" upper left; signed, titled and dated "C. Dunham 2010 "Green Flowers (5)" 2010" on the stretcher

Baldwin Gallery, Aspen
Gladstone Gallery, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

About Carroll Dunham

Carroll Dunham is known for his paintings of cartoonish, humanoid forms such as penis-nosed men, bulbous shapes reminiscent of sexual or digestive organs, and direct, humorous compositions of exposed vaginas. Mixing elements of Pop art, Surrealism, Neo-Expressionism, and Abstract Expressionism through a stylistically rich career joining abstraction and figuration, Dunham's paintings and works on paper variously reference Arshile Gorky, Paul Gauguin, Philip Guston, and the comics of R. Crumb.

American, b. 1949, New Haven, Connecticut