"Dana Schutz" is a concise exhibition of the artist’s recent work. One of the most prominent painters of her generation, the New York–based Schutz (b. 1976, Livonia, Michigan) is known for her distinctive visual style characterized by vibrant color and tactile brushwork. Her large-scale paintings capture imaginary stories, hypothetical situations, and impossible physical feats, such as swimming while smoking and crying. Equal parts darkly humorous and surreal, Schutz’s paintings combine abstraction and figuration with expressive imagination, truncated and re-constructed bodies, banal objects, and quotidian scenes to create oddly compelling and intriguing pictures.
Over the last decade, she has honed her approach to painting, creating tightly structured scenarios and compressed interiors. Her works capture subjects who seem to be actively managing, even fighting, the limitations of their depicted environments—boundaries set by the canvases’ actual borders. In works such as A Fight in an Elevator (2015), the elevator doors open directly into the viewer’s space, like a stage with its curtains drawn, revealing figures enmeshed and embroiled in an altercation, straining against the enclosed area. Many of her paintings, such as Getting Dressed All at Once (2012) and Shaving (2010), depict distorted and fragmented bodies, revealing a nuanced exploration of the female body engaged in life’s everyday rituals.
Drawing on the legacies of both figurative and abstract painting, with nods to touchstone figures such as George Grosz and Wassily Kandinsky, Schutz’s unique voice in painting exemplifies the expansive possibilities of the medium today. In her work, the artist explores what can occur within parameters of space and time and how finite zones can unfold into curious and evocative narratives.
"Dana Schutz" is organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with Jessica Hong, Curatorial Assistant.