Well-known painter and print maker, Carroll Dunham, opens a show at the University Art Museum this Tuesday.
The work, sprawled throughout the gallery space, takes the viewer on a journey through Dunham’s growth as a print maker.
Dunham, who is best known for his paintings, made his first print in 1984 at the request of Bill Goldstone. This black and white print is among the 27 years of prints in the collection hanging in the university museum.
“The work is really encyclopedic in a way,” Janet Riker, Museum Director, said. “It was very important that it was hung in chronological order, and I really feel that I have a new understanding of Dunham as an artist as I walk through the show.”
The prints, true to Dunham’s painting style, combine cartoon like drawings with a vivid color pallet that encourage people to engage in the psychosexual content of each image and narrative. The work seems to possess a union of mind and body, shape and color, masculine and feminine that weaves through the foreground and background to create complex networks within a shallow depth of field.
Walking through the show it is as if you are standing over Dunham’s shoulder as he is working through these complex ideas.
“You can really feel the efforts, the struggle, and the intellectual rigor that is involved with creating the artists voice,” Riker said.
The show, which is on loan from The Addison Art Gallery, showcases only Dunham’s printmaking work, a body that has been overlooked even by those in the art community.
“People think they know Carroll Dunham from his paintings, but you probably don’t know him until you see this work,” Riker said.
Although his underlying style is the same, the process of printmaking is much different than that of painting. In painting you make your mark directly on the canvas; you can immediately see the results of your thoughts.
In print making this is not the case. The lines and shapes that make up each piece are a result of a series of processes.
Dunham starts by hand making his paper and meticulously engraving the lithograph to create his distinct strokes. Once the products to make the prints are ready he must then work with a print maker to create the finished product.
Although Dunham collaborates with a printmaker he is still completely engaged with the entire process; making sure each line is the correct, color, thickness, and length.
By paying close attention to detail he is able to give each mark value within the pieces as a whole. From paper texture to embossing and engraving subtle details his process seems to make the prints jump off the page and confront the viewer head on; creating an aggressive energy within the crude sexuality of his work.
The show will be up until April 3 with the opening reception Tuesday night 5:00-7:00. Dunham will be speaking at the University Feb. 22 at 7:30 p.m.