Imagine the visual culture of the past four decades—everything from comic strips and psychedelic posters to Abstract Expressionist classics—gathered into one big sloppy playpen, and you have some idea of the jumble from which the young American painter Carroll Dunham pieces together his abstract paintings. Dunham can’t get his scrapbook-style paintings to cohere, but he has more gut pictorial sense than most of the other artists who are wrapped up in the retro-this-and-neo-that craziness of the past few years. Dunham, who was born in 1949 and has had two one-man shows at Baskerville & Watson (the most recent was last spring), picks and chooses amidst the image bank of post-World War II America with a dandy’s sense of style. Who but a dandy would paint on thin sheets of wood veneer, as Dunham invariably does? This artist is a connoisseur of materials: he likes to combine paint, powdered pigments, and lots of different graphic...


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