Rant of the Week: Roberta Smith Has the Post-Minimal Blahs

February 15, 2010 · Print This Article

Roberta Smith of the New York Times is way too classy and refined to actually rant. Yet despite the even-handedness of her tone, her argument here is impassioned. It also happens to be one that I agree with. Note the part where she reports that the MCA has yet to find a New York venue for its in-the-works Jim Nutt retrospective.  A brief excerpt below, then go read the full, lengthy piece from last Sunday’s paper here.

“To paraphrase Jerry Lee Lewis, there is a whole lot of art making going on right now. All different kinds. But you’d hardly know it from the contemporary art that New York’s major museums have been serving up lately, and particularly this season.

The current exhibition of Gabriel Orozco at the Museum of Modern Art along with the recent ones of Roni Horn at the Whitney Museum and of Urs Fischer at the New Museum have generated a lot of comment pro and con. So has the Tino Sehgal performance exhibition now on view in an otherwise emptied-out Guggenheim rotunda. But regardless of what you think about these artists individually, their shows share a visual austerity and coolness of temperature that are dispiritingly one-note. After encountering so many bare walls and open spaces, after examining so many amalgams of photography, altered objects, seductive materials and Conceptual puzzles awaiting deciphering, I started to feel as if it were all part of a big-box chain featuring only one brand.”

Jim Nutt, Plumb, 2004. Private collection. Photo courtesy of David Nolan Gallery, New York




Episode 224: Carroll Dunham

December 13, 2009 · Print This Article

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This week: Guest interviewer Anna Kunz (accompanied by Pamela Fraser) talks to Carroll Dunham about his show at He Said/She Said and more!

Carroll Dunham
American painter. He completed a BA at Trinity College, Hartford, CT, in 1971 and later settled in New York. Initially influenced by Post-Minimalism, process art and conceptual art, he was soon attracted to the tactility and allusions to the body in the work of Brice Marden, Robert Mangold and Robert Ryman. Spurred on by the revival of interest in Surrealism in the 1970s, Dunham began to make abstract, biomorphic paintings reminiscent of the work of Arshile Gorky and André Masson, executed with a comic twist enhanced by lurid colours and the suggestion of contemporary psychedelia.

In the 1980s he began to paint on wood veneer and rose to prominence in the context of a broader return to painting in the period. Age of Rectangles (1983–5; New York, MOMA) is a highly abstract composition of differing forms, symptomatic of his work at this time: geometric sketches co-exist with eroticized organic shapes while the forms of the wood veneer show through the surface of the paint to suggest surging forces.

Towards the end of the 1980s he began to move towards single, dominating motifs; wave-like forms were particularly common. In the Integrated Paintings series he applied paint-covered balls and chips to the surface of the canvas to further develop the sense of organic life. Mound A (1991; priv. col.) is typical of Dunham’s work of the early 1990s in which his forms began to resemble mounds of live matter, covered in orifices. Around 1993 his paintings began to feature schematic, cartoon figures which suggest the influence of Philip Guston. Read more