Loretta Dunkelman


Loretta Dunkelman’s paintings and works on paper combine minimalist forms with subtle, rich and often painterly surface layering. She completed her undergraduate degree at Douglass College, Rutgers in the 1950’s under European abstract painter Theodore Brenson and Allan Kaprow. Dunkelman received her Masters from Hunter College where she studied with Ad Reinhardt, Tony Smith and Ralph Humphreys.

Dunkelm’s work is marked by an interest in architecture and aspects of negative space or the void. The architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright and the philosophy of Lao Tzu inform her early minimalist paintings. Her work from the 1970’s is formal, classical and objective, inspired by travel in Greece.  Geometry and surface created through a process of layering caran d’ache oil wax chalk on paper are key elements. The focus is on line and proportion - the relationship between the fragment and the implied whole. In the “Flesh Series” of the 1990s the artist fuses paint and color with the memories and wounds of life experience to form a translucent skin, revealing the vulnerability of all flesh.  The paintings are about the pain and beauty of existence and continue to exemplify Dunkelman’s skill fusing surface interest with depth of space and depth of emotion.

Dunkelman is a founder of A.I.R. Gallery, the first women’s gallery in the United States where she had 6 one-person shows between 1972 and 1987.  She was a member of the Ad Hoc Committee of Women Artists, organized by art historian and critic Lucy Lippard. In 1972 she co-organized Thirteen Women Artists, the first major exhibitions of women, which included Louise Bourgeois and Mary Miss. Her work has been featured in a number of important museum exhibitions: the 1973 Whitney Biennial and American Drawings at the Whitney; the city-wide multi-site exhibition, Women Choose Women; and On Surface, along with Brice Marden, Robert Ryman and Ralph Humphrey at the Katonah Art Gallery. Loretta Dunkelman’s work is in many public and private collections: The Chase Manhattan Bank; City University Graduate Center, NY; Colgate University, Hamilton, NY; The University of Cincinnati, OH; The Spencer Art Museum, KS; Bristol-Myers Squibb, NJ and The Smithsonian Museum, Washington, D.C. She has exhibited at the Phoenix Art Museum, Grand Rapids Art Museum, Newark Museum, Whitney Museum, Cornell University, the University of Kansas Art Museum, Virginia Commonwealth University, Mason Gross School of the Arts Galleries, P.S. 1, Kulturhuset, Stockholm Sweden, and in galleries at Bennington College, Colgate University, Ohio State University, University of Rochester, Hunter College, and Kent State. She is the recipient of three National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Gottlieb Foundation Grant, the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, the CAPS award and an American Association of University Women Fellowship. She has had residencies at Yaddo and MacDowell. She has lived and worked in her New York City since 1961.