June 21, 2008

Dunham donates his printmaking archive to his alma mater

Carroll Dunham donated his printmaking archive to The Addison Gallery of American Art at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, his high school alma mater. The Addison Gallery is organizing a traveling exhibition of the prints, which will be the first museum study of Dunham's graphic work. The exhibition opened at the Allen Memorial Art Museum at Oberlin College, and will be at the Addison until July 13. In The Boston Globe, new art critic Sebastian Smee reports that the decorous, connoisseur's atmosphere that swaddles most discussions of printmaking is simply obliterated by Carroll Dunham's prints. "There's comedy in the contradiction. There's also - in just a few cases - something aesthetically grating, as the feeling builds that Dunham may be a little too precious about materials and technique. If he really wants to blurt forth imagery of this kind, he should make it a genuine blurt, not a lithographed blurt on Fabriano Esportazione paper or an etched blurt with aquatint on fawn Stonehenge paper. Nonetheless, I found this show riveting. ...On occasion, Dunham sets out to challenge good taste not only in his imagery but in the medium itself. One series of phallic-nosed figures is printed as a wood engraving with embossing that pulls the outlines up from the surface. Everything about these works - the colors, the embossing, the dumb graphic simplicity of the style - is tacky, and I've no doubt Dunham wants it that way. It's kitsch, but knowing kitsch. And as such, it's hard not to like." Read more.

"Carroll Dunham Prints: A Survey," curated by Allison N. Kemmerer. The Addison Gallery of American Art, Andover, MA. Through July 13.

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