Carroll Dunham - Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Wednesday, May 13, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Blum & Poe, Los Angeles

  • Exhibited

    Los Angeles, Blum & Poe, CARROLL DUNHAM, April 9 - May 15, 2010

  • Catalogue Essay

    “The only way I can find my paintings is in my paintings.”
    Carroll Dunham, 2007

    Carroll Dunham’s expansive body of work dwells in the land of painting, teetering between the abstract and the figurative. Over the past three decades Dunham’s artistic creations have touched on the colorful, the absurd and the unpredictable. Describing his artistic forms as part of his “homeless vocabulary” Dunham remains loyal to what he refers to as “structural archetypes that are kind of locked in.” (Painting Process/Process Painting, Museum of Modern Art Lecture by Carroll Dunham, September 2007) Ranging from his earlier male protagonists with phallic noses to his female bathers to what we see in the present lot: a windblown tree, his reoccurring formal elements act as his jumping points into the canvases, describing them as his “private lexicon, I call them shapes. They probably have aspects of them that are like characters. They certainly have approached having some kind of personality at times. But they are first and foremost shapes in a figure ground relationship.”(Carroll Dunham, B. Sussler, BOMB – Artists in Conversation, Winter 1990)

    Dunham has repeatedly emphasized that his wild forms have their roots in abstracted composition, explaining: “I think it’s very different to make pictures of things coming out of abstraction than it is to make abstractions of things coming out the visible world.” (Painting Process/Process Painting, Museum of Modern Art Lecture by Carroll Dunham, September 2007) The present lot, Time Storm Three (Tree of Life), 2005-09 is first and foremost an abstraction that has taken the form of a green and luscious tree. The tree, which resembles a human figure with branch like limbs, appears to have been tossed about by the harsh environment. The tree has lost its organic form, leaves drop to the ground while a noose rope hangs from the tree’s one limb, these ominous components stand in direct opposition to the whimsical purple tulip in the foreground and the deep red flowers that thrive amid the tree’s crown. This “tree of life” – a historical departure from the artists usual human forms— despite its classical rendition, seems to hold on to the human form in its rendering, the possibility of successful growth and the promise of death allows this painting to be the visual epitome of what the artist defines as painting: “a perfect storm of the crass the sacred and the intimately personal.” (Painting Process/Process Painting, Museum of Modern Art Lecture by Carroll Dunham, September 2007)

  • Artist Biography

    Carroll Dunham

    American • 1949

    Satire and sexuality meet Carroll Dunham's vivid brush in the artist's often large-scale fantasy worlds. His eye-popping cartoonish veneer takes a cue from Philip Guston while his primitive "visual language" of faceless figures continues a long line of tradition—think back to Paul Cézanne and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

    Though Dunham jumps between abstraction, figuration, pop, surrealism and cartoon, his works almost exclusively center on the subject of women's sexuality. He also favors painting, though he has delved into prints, works-on-paper and sculpture. His paintings can be seen as contemporary variations on nineteenth-century portraiture of women bathing, injected with similar concerns of those classical and early modernist artists.

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Ο ◆29

Time Storm Three (Tree of Life)

acrylic, pencil on canvas
107 3/4 x 118 1/4 in. (273.7 x 300.4 cm)
Initialed and dated "C.D. 2005-09" lower left.

$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $485,000

Contact Specialist
Amanda Stoffel
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1261

Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Evening Sale 14 May 2015 7pm