Carroll Dunham began painting during the 1980s, making pictures on wood veneer that incorporate the wood grain itself as a compositional element. He painted on ordinary pieces of laminated pine, and later on panels covered with more exotic veneers; for Five Pieces, he used a variety of wood, including cherry, walnut, maple, and zebrano, the latter of which has a combination of light and dark grains that give it a striped appearance. As Ken Johnson wrote in his review of these early works for the New York Times, “What these paintings add up to is a kind of delirious, barely contained psychic pluralism. Various dualities and contradictions play out: between wood and paint; abstraction and representation; geometry and biology; the phallic and the vaginal; body and mind; nature and culture.”
Carroll Dunham (b. 1949, New Haven, Connecticut; lives and works in New York and Connecticut)
Five Pieces, 1984
Casein, dry pigment, Flashe, casein emulsion, carbon, and pencil on cherry, walnut, zebrano, maple, and American walnut
60 x 45 in.
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Gift of Daniel Weinberg