Dana Schutz – born Livonia, Michigan 1976
One of the most celebrated painters of her generation, Dana Schutz shapes fantastical and bizarre scenarios with bold swipes of the brush. Parallel worlds, grotesque creatures, and implausible action sequences become vehicles for color and expression. Schutz's paintings pose pictorial questions with humor and imagination while nodding toward the art historical precedents of Max Beckmann and Maria Lassnig.
“I’m never interested in the painting being a mirror to culture,” the artist has explained. “I think that’s really boring. What I’m interested in is painting as an affective space. The place where the hierarchies of the world can be rearranged within the space of a painting.”
In 2002, fresh out of the Columbia MFA program, Schutz captured critical attention with a body of work devoted to a fictional "last man on earth," painted as if from direct observation. But her real breakout came with a 2004 series exploring Self-Eaters, visceral renderings of grotesque beings devouring their own limbs and faces, which alluded darkly to Goya and to the act of recycling in contemporary painting. Recent works show figures disintegrating in more mysterious ways, with nods to Jasper Johns and Magritte. In the years that followed, Schutz has exhibited extensively, in both the United States and abroad. At the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the artist’s painting Open Casket (2016), depicting the body of Emmett Till, stirred considerable backlash and controversy upon its unveiling.
Today, her works are held in the collections The Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, among others.