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

Integrated Painting Five

Carroll Dunham (b. 1949)
Integrated Painting Five
signed and dated 'July-August September 1992 Caroll Dunham' (along the upper edge); signed, titled, inscribed and dated '"Integrated Painting Five" Hampton Bays 1992 Caroll Dunham' (on the stretcher)
mixed media on linen
65 x 100in. (165.1 x 254cm.)
Executed in 1992
Sonnabend Gallery, New York.
White Cube.
Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2000.
K. Kertess, 'Creatures of the Plane' in Art Forum, May 1994, vol. 32, no. 9 (illustrated in colour, p. 66).
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Paola Saracino Fendi
Paola Saracino Fendi

Lot Essay

‘ I still think what I’m doing is abstraction in the sense that my urges or intentions have nothing to do with depicting the world. I can’t draw in that way. I have to go inwards to find how to do it.’
– Carroll Dunham

Exploding in a profusion of garish colour and primordial form, Integrated Painting Five is a riotous large-scale work from Carroll Dunham’s ‘Integrated Paintings’ series. Lips, orifices and phallic shapes emerge from a mountain of bulging abstraction, throbbing in lurid tones of blue, magenta, orange, metallic purple, neon yellow and green. Colourful spheres of painted polystyrene bubble in three dimensions from the painting’s surface, intensifying the painting’s frenzied physical energy. Washes and spatters of colour fluoresce like fireworks against the white background. The composition has clear echoes of landscape and sky: Dunham’s ‘Mound’ and ‘Integrated’ series in fact developed out of different ways of representing the image of a wave, which here mutates into a T-shaped limb sprouting from the ground. This shape becomes a kind of organic architectural scaffold for the suggestive bodily forms that transgress the painting’s abstraction. 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,’ Klaus Kertess writes, ‘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 hysterical, nuclear intensity of Integrated Painting Five 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. Dunham’s work is informed by a riotous dialogue with art history not unlike that of his contemporary George Condo. Coming of age in the painterly heyday of 1980s New York, Dunham opened up – and continues to explore – fresh new avenues of expression in his medium, and has been enormously influential for the generation of young painters who followed him. Shapes and brushstrokes come to life, sprouting tumorous, Freudian growths that speak of a raging inward energy. Simmering forth into sculptural surface, Dunham’s idiom becomes uniquely his own; his bright, cartoonish vocabulary of forms is dredged from a profoundly interior place. ‘I still think what I’m doing is abstraction in the sense that my urges or intentions have nothing to do with depicting the world’, he says. ‘I can’t draw in that way. I have to go inwards to find how to do it’ (C. Dunham, quoted in H.M. Sheets, ‘An “Art World Secret” Plumbs the Mysterious Id’, New York Times, 27 October 2002). Id runs wild over Ego. Applying the bodily language of mutation and metamorphosis to painting itself, in Integrated Painting Five Dunham creates an exuberant, irresistible scape of vivid colour and visceral symbol. The work churns like a cauldron of primal forces. It may look like an alien planet, but ultimately this is a vibrant place we can all find somewhere in ourselves.

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