Hammer Projects: Angela Dufresne

Hammer Projects: Angela Dufresne

Angela Dufresne's large canvases depict imaginary landscapes populated by strange modernist structures. Dufresne's brushstrokes, painted with a loose, frenetic energy, add to the sense of alienation and anxiety her compositions produce, yet they also translate the forward-looking idealism espoused by modernist architects like Le Corbusier or Frank Lloyd Wright. She presents utopias gone awry in color schemes that range from vivid acidic hues to more natural earthy tones.

Hammer Projects: Angela Dufresne. Installation view at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles. July 29-October 29, 2006. Photo by Joshua White.

Biography

Angela Dufresne was born in 1969 in Hartford, Connecticut, and lives in Brooklyn. She received a BFA in 1991 from the Kansas City Art Institute, and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, in 1998. Her paintings were the subject of solo exhibitions at Monya Rowe Gallery, New York; Galleria Glance, Milan; and Miller Block, Boston. Her work was included in Greater New York 2005 at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, New York, as well as in group exhibitions at Lehmann Maupin and LeLong Gallery in New York. Writings on her paintings have appeared in Interview magazine, the New York Times, and the Boston Globe. This is Dufresne's first solo museum exhibition.

Essay

By Nicole Rudick

A prolific and versatile painter, Angela Dufresne produces large-scale landscapes that contain the collaged effect of rectilinear modernist buildings inserted into rough, time-swept landscapes—all rendered in a painterly collision of color. In this single breath, Dufresne rewrites the context of form and space, creating her own branches of history and infusing them with a Romantic mood and a sense of personal freedom.
Dufresne's interest in creating places that could have existed (or may yet—some of her titles are postdated) began with her self-described "bastard portraits," in which she invented unlikely identities (she once suggested the progeny of Julia Child and Kris Kristofferson). This impulse to distort history, thereby creating new meaning, extends to Dufresne's work with architecture. A 2004 canvas titled Me and Bruce Lee and another famous yet unnamable man on the shore in front of an unmade building by Frank Lloyd Wright called the Donahoe Triptych pictures a majestic modernist construction, alternately arched and cubed, spanning three rocky outcroppings high above a dark, blue sea. Backlit by a hazy dusk sky, Dufresne's "realized" building is based on a drawing made by Wright but never built. Here she fuses the idea of invented relationships (the figures of the title are barely visible in the panoramic setting) with a piece of architecture that is both real and not. Dufresne makes Wright's visionary, heroic design tangible so that it can serve as the ideal receptacle for her imaginative exploits. 

 The Oum kaltheum International Center for Vocal and Intellectual Training built on the Remains of the Congress Building in Brasilia, Brazil. Designed by Brian Burton (aka Danger mouse) c. 2052 

 The First Frame from Mildred Pierce with the beach house Renovations Including a View of the Michael Curtiz/Rainer Werner Fassbinder Observation Deck 

 The Rhine—The Culinary Row Academy and Conservatory Institute 

Notes

1. All quotations from Angela Dufresne are from an interview with the author, June 2006.

Nicole Rudick is assistant editor of Artforum and managing editor of Bookforum.

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Hammer Projects are made possible with support from The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, the Annenberg Foundation, Fox Entertainment Group's Arts Development Fee, the Los Angeles County Arts Commission, members of the Hammer Circle, and the David Teiger Curatorial Travel Fund.