Dana Schutz is among the foremost painters of her generation and is part of a group of artists leading a revival of painting today. Her distinct combination of figuration and abstraction, expressive colour palette, and her use of imagined and hypothetical scenarios are unique among her contemporaries. The artist’s work captures the frenzy, tension, vulnerability, and struggle of life today, as her subjects actively manage, even fight, both the limitations of the canvas and their depicted environments.The impressive scale of many of Schutz’s paintings reference the monumentality of history painting, the genre considered most important in the history of Western art. Her paintings challenge history painting’s typical subjects–heroic portrayals of historical and allegorical events–and instead monumentalize everyday scenes (laying in bed, getting dressed, carpooling, riding in an elevator). Schutz confronts the traditional hierarchies of painting and expands the possibilities for the medium today. Dana Schutz,a concise survey of the artist’s recent work, comprises 17 paintings, several at monumental scale and including two new ones, and four charcoal drawings. Schutz’s enormous new painting, Big Wave (2016), acquired by the ICA in December, is on view for the first time in the United States. Open through November 26,Dana Schutz is organized by Eva Respini, Barbara Lee Chief Curator, with Jessica Hong, Curatorial Associate. ͞Drawing on the legacies of both figurative and abstract painting, with nods to touchstone figures such as George Grosz and Max Beckmann, Schutz’s unique voice in painting exemplifies the expansive possibilities of the medium today,͟ said Respini. Over the last decade, Schutz 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. Schutz’s paintings often show hypothetical or impossible physical feats and explore the uncanny through wit and the expressive use of colour. Her physically imposing canvases—one nearly 18 feet—are worlds onto themselves. Building the Boat While Sailing (2012) displays a mass of people, working, sailing, and lounging, all at once. Shaking out the Bed (2015) portrays a couple in bed seen from a birds-eye vantage point, a common gesture transformed by the artist into a tornado of energy that includes pizza slices, body parts, cups, and dirty laundry. InBig Wave (2016) two figures in the foreground play in the sand, seemingly oblivious to the ferocious incoming tidal wave that is swallowing up fish, a tangle of bodies, and assorted objects. Dana Schutz also includes several paintings illustrating single figures involved in everyday scenarios such as showering or getting dressed. Works that have a more melancholy tenor include Piano in the Rain (2012) and Slow
Motion Shower (2015), where each protagonist is encased within the work’s tight borders. Schutz’s vibrant colour palette is widely expressive, encompassing violence, wit, melancholy, and absurdity. Teeming with energy, commotion, and struggle, her paintings capture a high level of tension and compression that is part of today’s zeitgeist.