About the artist:
While studying at Douglass College, Rutgers in the late 1950s, Loretta Dunkelman became interested in the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and the philosophies of Lao Tzu, whose ideas about space in architecture overlapped with those held by Wright. The two figureheads both believed that a most alive space is directly opposed to a filled space; the void, or a negative space, is more alive because of its capacity to be filled. Dunkelman was drawn to this notion that an empty container holds vast potential. She sought to develop the concept of the void through her own work, and in 1965, explored this philosophy of space in a series of early minimalist paintings composed asymmetrically with a layered monochromatic or two-color painted surface. In 1970, during a visit to the island of Ios in Greece, Dunkelman made a group of color studies inspired by the sky. Her work that followed was also heavily influenced by the Greek sky: in the early 1970s, Dunkelman created a series of large-scale works on paper that involved a process of layering caran d'ache oil-wax chalk on paper. Using these materials compelled Dunkelman to hone her focus on the broad notion of surface matter, and playing with space in this way prompted her to delve into the subject of geometry through a careful study of line as she worked through the visual implications of representing an image as whole or fragmented. One of the drawings made during this period, titled Ice-Sky, was exhibited in the 1973 Whitney Biennial at the Whitney Museum. Dunkelman’s practice shifted in the ‘80s towards a more tactile, less formal method of artmaking. Using paint and wax to create thick reliefs on canvas, Dunkelman continued her layering technique by applying strokes of pastel color to a sea of white oil paint and wax. The colors seemed to wade their way through the frosting-like depths of the composition. A certain rawness evident in these paintings is echoed in her Flesh Series oil paintings of the 1990s. The series--with translucent surfaces reminiscent of viscera--maintains an unusual beauty while also evoking images of stripped flesh and sensations of pain and vulnerability. Dunkelman’s most recent work is a series of blue paintings. Though less graphic than the Flesh Series, these paintings maintain the same layered effect that characterizes many of Dunkelman’s previous works. By creating multiple layers of surfaces in which the physicality of the paint is transformed by color and light, Dunkelman reveals the vulnerability of the human condition and expresses the beauty and joy of life itself. An active member of A.I.R. until 1987, Dunkelman has had six solo shows with the gallery. She was involved in many projects that promoted the work of other women artists because she felt it was important to present women’s work in their historical context. In 1983, Dunkelman wrote a grant for an historical exhibition of women artists, 7 American Women: The Depression Decade, funded by the National Endowment and New York State Council on the Arts. She also initiated an Emerging Artist and Underexposed Artist program for the gallery. Dunkelman’s contributions to the women’s art movement in New York would not end with her involvement with A.I.R. Dunkelman became a member of the Ad Hoc Committee of Women’s artists, and helped organize Thirteen Women Artists, one of the first major exhibitions of women artists in the United States. She has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the American Association of University Women, as well as a grant from the Gottlieb Foundation. Loretta Dunkelman was born in 1937 in Patterson, New Jersey. In 1958 she received a Bachelors in Art from Douglass College, the all-women's college of Rutgers University, as well as a Masters in Art from Hunter College in 1966. She currently lives and works in New York.
While studying at Douglass College, Rutgers in the late 1950s, Loretta Dunkelman became interested in the architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and the philosophies of Lao Tzu, whose ideas about space in architecture overlapped with those held by