Carroll Dunham, Untitled (6/16/97), 1997
Developing a lexicon of pictograms since the early 1980s, Carroll Dunham has become known for his cartoon-like images of protruding phalluses, orifices, and other abstracted bodily abjections. At a time that was dominated by the rigors of process art, Dunham turned to comics, graffiti, and the psychosexual proclivities of surrealism to create sprawling canvases of silly yet seductive debauchery.
Over the years his work has grown increasingly figurative, while maintaining its commitment to the comically grotesque. In the mid 1990s he developed a series of distinct characters with penis-like noses and toothy, vagina dentate smiles. Two of these creatures can be seen floating on a raft in Untitled. One grabs his nose like a telescope, while the other seemingly steers a tiller. Untitled is an early study for Ship, 1997-1999, a large painting in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, that depicts a raucous maritime scene of fighting genitalia.
Marriage of Reason and Squalor, 1967
Gift of Lawrence Rubin
Frank Stella’s print Marriage of Reason and Squalor is part of Black Series I, a portfolio of 9 lithographs published by Gemini G.E.L. and based on earlier paintings with the same titles. The companion painting for this work, The Marriage of Reason and Squalor, II (1959) is in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, NY.
Stella’s early work denies illusionistic space, emphasizing flatness and the materiality of the canvas or paper instead. The lines in these prints are done free hand in metallic gray-black ink; compared to his paintings, the lines are slightly clearer, making the geometric designs extremely dynamic. The image is presented in the lower left corner of the paper, associating the lines of the print with the paper itself and so emphasizing the materiality of the paper as object. The juxtaposition of the stark geometric lines with its off center location further creates a kind of optical illusion with its unsettling asymmetry and imbalance.
These widely recognized prints exemplify Stella’s early style. Inspired by Jasper Johns, the parallel lines and patterns present the entire painting to the viewer at once. Stella’s famous line, “What you see is what you see,” encapsulates his concept of painting as both image and object. Beginning in 1960 with his Aluminum Paintings and Copper Paintings, Stella started experimenting with shaped canvases and reflective surfaces, leading up to the vibrant sculptures and prints he creates today.
-Victoria Kung ’14, Curatorial Intern
Paul Ramirez Jonas’s upcoming show at the Bell Gallery spotted on MoMA’s twitter feed.