November/December 2010

The Center of the Construction

How to Enter a Carroll Dunham Drawing

by David Humphrey

Carroll Dunham has been making paintings that fuse elements of cartooning and biomorphic surrealism with various brands of abstraction since he began his New York career in the late ’70s. His imagery has evolved from simple organisms to vexed social organizations to gun-wielding men in suits and, more recently, naked women. We had this conversation at Dunham’s home in lower Manhattan in a small studio dedicated to drawing. It reveals the possibility that a hidden undercurrent of measure and formality pulses beneath his work’s surface of sexuality and violence.


THE BELIEVER: Do you ever work from a model?

CARROLL DUNHAM: I never work from a model. They just come out of drawing. I think that’s why I draw so much. They don’t come from anywhere else, really.

BLVR: Let’s think about the blank piece of paper; it’s a threshold you have to cross every time you make a drawing, and, in the case of this one, you’ve made an analogy between the creamy white page and ass cheeks.

CD: Blank sheets of paper always have a character. Even with quick little drawings, you’re looking for a way for the paper and the medium and the image to all braid, to all connect, as one thing.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

To read the full piece, please visit our store to purchase a copy of the magazine.

David Humphrey is a New York artist represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co. An anthology of his art writing, Blind Handshake, was released this year by Periscope Publishing. He is a senior critic at the Yale School of Art.

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