David Humphrey

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Marcia Wood Gallery is delighted to announce its first solo exhibition by the renowned artist, David Humphrey. His paintings, sculptures and drawings have been known for their "surreal sexiness, postmodern snap, and painterly discrimination". Combining figuration and landscape with abstract forms, his canvases are a lively field, where diverse painting practices co-exist to hatch enigmatic and engrossing narratives.

David Humphrey received a BFA from Maryland Institute, College of Art in 1977 and a MA from New York University in 1980. He has shown nationally and internationally and he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize among other awards. His collections include the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, the Cleveland Center for Contemporary Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Goetz Collection, Munich, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Art, Boston, the Walker Art Center, the Whitney Museum of Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery, among others.

Humphrey wrote a column for Art Issues from 1989-2002 and has written extensively on art for exhibition catalogs and art periodical, including Art in America and Flash. An anthology of his writing, Blind Handshake, was released in 2009 by Periscope Publishing. Humphrey was appointed senior critic at Yale School of Art in 2007.

Artist Statement
My paintings are frequently depictions of depictions. I will copy an amateur painting, for instance, the way a band might cover a song written by someone else, or the way a singer renders an old chestnut. I try to get inside the other person's point of view to stretch my own. Sometimes the preexisting image, like an eccentrically generic landscape, will provide a location for one of my paintings. Sometimes a sad clown or beloved pet painting will provide the protagonist. My handmade renditions, though, take a lot of liberties with the originals. I will add characters or exaggerate and mutate elements. But the work will evolve from contact with the original and will carry iconographic elements, and sometimes feelings, into the finished state.

I am interested in amateur paintings for their rhetorical clarity, especially conventionally idyllic landscapes saturated with promises of harmony, beauty and a simpler life. Amateur paintings also have relic value; they have been saved, handed down and are evidence that a certain individual spent their life not painting that much. The focused determination and particular handwriting of the brush-strokes, though, can have an awkward and sometimes heartbreaking beauty. I gather my images from flea markets, antique stores and the internet. That's where I found the paintings of Dwight David Eisenhower. Like myself, he was making copies of images from Hallmark greeting cards. Can we learn anything by comparing that warrior Republican to our current Republican President? Eisenhower was instrumental in developing our highway system and an early form of the internet but his paintings are mute. My paintings treat Eisenhower's blankness pathologically. I complicate Ike's earnest competence with sexual overtones and semiotic horseplay. I play fast and loose with the historical record. Like an amateur, I screw things up in my own way.

David Humphrey
December 2005