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Carroll Dunham (b. 1949)
Carroll Dunham (b. 1949)

The Second Green Planet

Details
Carroll Dunham (b. 1949)
The Second Green Planet
signed and dated 'Carroll Dunham Dec 96 - May 97' (upper right)
vinyl, acrylic and pencil on canvas
84 x 54in. (213.5 x 137.2cm.)
Executed in 1996-1997
Provenance
Jablonka Galerie, Cologne.
Mottahedan Collection, London.
Acquired from the above by the present owners.
Literature
T. Godfrey, M. Mottahedan and K. Schubert, Once Upon a Time in America - The Mottahedan Collection, London 1999, p. 115 (illustrated in colour, p. 33).

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Katharine Arnold
Katharine Arnold

Lot Essay

‘The world of a Carroll Dunham painting is exuberant, irrational, menacing and comic. It slips fluidly between abstraction and representation. Creatures seemingly coalesce from the sludge of the subconscious, feeling their way blind through the painterly terrain by means of phallic protuberances and bared teeth that almost chew up the scenery. Id incarnate, and sometimes wielding guns or bullwhips, these characters are undeniably appealing, cutting to the quick of rage and humor and frustration the way cartoons do’
HILARIE M. SHEETS


Exploding in a dynamic profusion of garish colour and primordial form, The Second Green Planet (1996-97) is a riotous large-scale painting by Carroll Dunham. From a pulsating, acid-green central globe, a flotilla of cellular shapes bursts outward into white space. Drips, splatters and blurs of green, black and yellowish paint convey wild centrifugal force. The planet’s acid green surface is alive with bilious texture, its black scribbles and corpuscular discs conjuring follicles, orifices and rampant organic growth. To the orb’s top left, a grey, eyeless, block-shaped head grits cartoonish teeth in anger or effort. The hysterical, nuclear intensity of this work is typical of Dunham’s approach, which combines a Surrealistic plunge into the murky depths of the subconscious with a Guston-esque shift from abstraction to figuration: shapes and brushstrokes come to life, sprouting tumorous, alien growths that speak of a raging inward energy. The lack of eyes in the planet’s comical, jutting head seems to figure this sense of psychological interiority, as if what we see is a bubbling mass of repressed feeling, fizzing furiously like a swallowed alka-seltzer. As Klaus Kertess has observed, Dunham’s distinctive idiom conquers fertile territory in the fallout of art history’s postmodern apocalypse. ‘As modernism broke down and was atomized into the plurality that continues to typify today’s art-making, Dunham was amongst the first to seize the new liberty to invent one’s own paradigms and create new worlds’ (K. Kertess, ‘Line that never ends’, in Carroll Dunham: Drawings 1984-2004, exh. cat. Galerie Judin, Berlin 2005, n.p.). The Second Green Planet may be a new world, but its mood is instantly familiar. Applying the bodily language of mutation and metamorphosis to painting itself, Dunham concocts a churning cauldron of blind, primal drives, a petri-dish of unrestrained biology, a microcosm of toxic forces made hilariously accessible. Frenzied, fluorescent and irresistibly anarchic, The Second Green Planet is a place we can all find somewhere in ourselves.

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