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The extensive oeuvre of American painter Carroll Dunham has infused the discourse of representation versus abstraction with new life, while simultaneously pointing to a number of new directions in 20th-century painting, such as surrealism, action painting, abstract painting, and pop art. His unusual, original color compositions and independent use of forms and materials had a significant influence on contemporary artists like Fred Tomaselli and Matthew Ritchie. In Dunham's works, pictorial elements reminiscent of cartoons became recognizable details within an enlivened, abstract picture surface as early as the beginning of the 80s. Later in that decade, Dunham turned to larger formats, painting the expanses of his canvases with visually constant forms in fluid gesture: bodily shapes, reduced to pictographs, appeared repulsive and hairy, resembling tumors, teeth, or lips, in expressionist colors and with an impressive painterly quality. Recently, Dunham's pictures have become distinctly more figurative, displaying aggressive male and female caricatures, with buildings, planets, and boats becoming additional vehicles of human emotions and unbridled primary energies.
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