Title Painter, sculptor
Dana Schutz earned her bachelor of fine arts degree at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2000 and her master’s degree at Columbia University in 2002.
Her paintings are striking, often large canvases that mix abstraction with representation to comment on the unruliness of life. Writing for the New Yorker, Peter Schejldahl gives us this description of her work:
“Painting wet-in-wet with oils, building thick and eventful surfaces, she creates allegories of uncertain but torrid, gnashing implication. ... She does this with almost preposterously extraordinary gifts for composition, paint handling, and, in particular color, suffusing clashes of hue and tone with ghostly essences of a chromatic unity that you feel rather than quite see.”
As one of the most influential painters of her generation, Dana has artworks in collections that include the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, as well as in museums in Tel Aviv and Berlin.
In 2017, her painting “Open Casket” appeared at the Whitney Biennial. It was a powerfully abstracted representation of Emmett Till, whose lynching at age 14 in Mississippi helped spark the Civil Rights movement.
The painting was made in the wake of a series racist demonstrations and police shootings of unarmed African American men. The inclusion of “Open Casket” in the exhibition ignited a heated backlash from some who objected to the idea of a white artist mining the trauma experienced by black Americans, and especially by Emmett Till’s mother.
“I could never, ever know her experience,” Dana told Artnet News, “but I know what it is to love your child.” In response to the criticisms of Open Casket, artist Kara Walker responded that “Painting, and a lot of art, often lasts longer than the controversies that greet it. I say this as a shout to every artist and artwork that gives rise to vocal outrage. Perhaps it too gives rise to deeper inquiries and better art. It can only do this when it is seen.”
Since the Whitney, Dana’s work has been shown in extensive exhibitions at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston and at the Transformer Station here in Cleveland. In 2019, the Petzel Gallery presented the critically acclaimed Imagine Me and You, a solo exhibition of new paintings and bronze sculptures.
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