All Articles
All Articles

Interview: Richard Dupont

The pioneering, digitally-minded sculptor shifts toward material and process

by James Thorne
on 02 May 2013

Artist Richard Dupont first caught our attention years ago as one of the early artists to experiment with distortions of digital models in a physical space. Fond of manipulating scans of his own body, Dupont has produced everything from shape-shifting statues to resin heads filled with everyday objects. His latest evolution involves two simultaneous shows at Carolina Nitsch and Tracy Williams in NYC. Both exhibitions show a movement toward process- and material-oriented work while retaining digital origins.

Fascinated by the drooping rubber heads—which Dupont admits can be seen as entropic versions of Easter Island moai—we stopped by the galleries to discuss the artist's recent work.

How has you work evolved since we last caught up with you?

I think the sub-narrative of the overall work has continued. In general, the use of the digital model of the body is something that I've confined myself to. Everything is moving and has been moving away from pure information—it's always been about reconciling the contradiction of using a digital starting point and ending in a material space.

How did the deflated heads series come about?
"It's tricky to get the heads to hang like drapery."

I had this series of clear resin heads with objects embedded in them. It culminated with a 700-pound solid resin head, and I had the original foam mold that I used to make the piece. It was interesting as an object and I was trying to do something with it, so I brushed a layer of rubber over it and it didn't work. When I went to peel the rubber off, it just came off in one piece. I immediately nailed it to the wall and it was one of these "aha" moments that you wait for in the studio. I went to mimic that—the trick is to brush it on, but not too thin or it will tear, and not too thick or it will hold its volume. It's tricky to get the heads to hang like drapery.

What is it about rubber that fascinates you?

Rubber has this elasticity in it that's related to flesh but is also very industrial. I started trying with latex, but it breaks down really quickly. Eva Hesse used a lot of latex self-consciously knowing that it was going to disintegrate, but she loved the material so much that she allowed it to disintegrate. There was a certain authenticity in that.

Where do you see the influence for this latest work coming from?

I think for me these have a lot to do with formlessness. They're related in many ways to earlier work. In a sense, beginning with someone like Alberto Burri and those paintings of plastic that are melted or dripping, but also all the work from the '50s and '60s like Robert Overby, Richard Serra, Eva Hesse and Bruce Nowman. Also in many ways Jasper Johns—he did all that work in the beginning where he was doing rubbings of his face and trying to get his body into the surface. Then there's the painting where he has the encaustic surface that's been gnawed into.

There's that period where for the first time people are thinking about formlessness, anti-form, allowing the material to dictate the end result and also the idea of trying to get the body into that space. I think that that period really opened up a new period of art-making in which the result is less a willful, self-conscious imposition of what you want it to end up looking like.

Both exhibitions open 2 May and run through the end of June 2013. Keep an eye out for a monumental, aluminum version of one of Dupont's heads to pop up in Columbus Circle later in the summer, and be sure to check out our video on the artist from 2008.

Images by James Thorne. See more in the slideshow.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things
Loading More...