Paul Dickerson (1961–1997), Untitled, N.D., ink on paper, 11 × 8 ½". All images courtesy of the estate of Paul Dickerson.

Paul Dickerson, (top row): Untitled, N.D., marker on paper, 11 × 8 ½"; Untitled, N.D., ink on paper, 11 × 8 ½"; (bottom row): Untitled, N.D., ink on paper, 11 × 8 ½"; Untitled, 1995, ink on paper, 11 × 8 ½".

Paul Dickerson, (top row): Untitled, N.D., ink on paper, 11 × 8 ½"; Untitled, N.D., ink and Wite-Out on paper, 11 × 8 ½"; (bottom row): Untitled, N.D., ink and silver enamel on paper, 11 × 8 ½"; Untitled, N.D., ink on paper, 11 × 8 ½".

Paul Dickerson, Untitled, N.D., ink on paper, 11 × 8 ½".


We have memory constructed of the references to past dialogues; popular imagination etc. It is kind of Platonic, and is used as a ballast for that which we are using at the moment. A gold standard of sorts—credit rating more like it.

But language should be more like what it is particularly being when it is spoken on each occasion. It could should make its own reference as it is used. It doesn’t need this external reference. PAY AS YOU PLAY. NO CHECKS OR CREDIT CARDS PLEASE


* * *


My work to be just the Punch line of a joke manifest

Duchamp’s failing was his signature in his work

Add Drawing Center Symposium to Résumé

Pick up Picture drawing

Go to truck Junk Yards for air foils broken even


* * *


I had Posi on my tricycle when I was a kid (axel drive). Nobody else had that & I knew it—I knew it was better more substantial.

There are real reasons why dogs drink from toilets.

I knew the difference between ratchet buckle type galoshes + the elastic buckle type was important and serious. Also these were my first exposures to Procedurality + naked mechanics + pragmatics (form + function).


* * *


Like in the way that a Cigarette or coffee company blends to make a distinctive product that doesn’t change when some of the blend isn’t available—this is a generalization + our sense of self is like this.

Camouflage is like when a helicopter gets shot down + the government talks about a full investigation, lowers the flags at the Capitol—special investigations


* * *


We’re so jaded with selections + menus + custom tailoring that these days when you look in the Q section of the dictionary you’re embarrassed for the Western world that there are so few words.


* * *


A painting should make you feel like a child seeing his first sunset snow fall migration of geese

A painter creates realities of a physical nature, not of a reality “experience” like a writer


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Yeah I want it both ways . . . but the thing about it is that it is both ways.


Texts taken from seven drawings; original grammar and spelling maintained.


A native of Chicago, Paul Dickerson (1961–1997) lived in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, from 1986 until he died by his own hand at the age of 36. He was an artist who pursued different and overlapping practices, from combined and transformed found objects, to wall works reduced in color and shape, to walk-through installations. Drawings in Dickerson’s practice were a space for thinking, an experimental medium, and a notational system for connecting ideas to objects. Dickerson’s estate is managed by the Paul Dickerson Studio Art Museum–Art Research Center in South Haven, Michigan ( This selection of drawings was made by Alison Green, art historian, critic, and curator who worked with Dickerson on several exhibitions in the 1990s and co-curated the 2007 retrospective Paul Dickerson: As Art at the Betty Rymer Gallery, School of the Art Institute of Chicago.


This issue of First Proof is sponsored in part by the Bertha and Isaac Liberman Foundation and the Thanksgiving Fund.

Additional funding is provided by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York State Council on the Arts, and readers like you.


Artists' writings
BOMB 116
Summer 2011
The cover of BOMB 116