See the Chaotic Paintings in Dana Schutz’s Polarizing ICA Boston Show

The museum presents a survey of the last 10 years of the artist's work.

Dana Schutz's Swimming, Smoking, Crying (2009). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.
Dana Schutz, Swimming, Smoking, Crying (2009). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz’s focused survey at the ICA Boston, which opened on July 26, has received more attention than most exhibitions that open in the dog days of summer—though not all of it has been positive.

In fact, the contentious discussion surrounding the show has focused more on a work of art that is not present—Open Casket (2016), her divisive contribution to the Whitney Biennial—than the works that are.

Eva Respini, the ICA’s chief curator, told artnet News that plans for the exhibition began two years ago, after she saw an exhibition of Schutz’s work at Petzel Gallery in New York. The two women also went to graduate school together.

“I’ve been seeing her work develop since she emerged in the 2000s—she’s one of the most prominent painters of her generation,” Respini added.

Because Schutz had recently had major shows in Europe and Canada, Respini decided against a sweeping career retrospective. Instead, she opted to examine the past 10 years of Schutz’s career.

During this period, Respini says, the artist began creating increasingly complex, large-scale compositions that seem to almost spill out over the edges of the canvas, borrowing from testosterone-heavy painters like Max Beckmann, George Grosz, and Pablo Picasso. The largest work in the show is nearly 18 feet long. (There were never any plans to include Open Casket, Respini notes.)

The show presents 21 works, including two new paintings: Conflict (2017), which depicts two lovers in what could be interpreted as either a confrontation or an embrace, and To Have a Head (2017). Also on display is Fight in an Elevator (2015), a chaotic composition originally inspired by a string of elevator fights, including those between Solange and Jay-Z and Ray Rice and Janay Palmer. According to Respini, “that theme of struggle and vulnerability is embedded in many of the works in the show.”

Below, see a selection of the works from yet another controversial exhibition.

Dana Schutz, Conflict, 2017. Oil on canvas, 94 x 82 in. (238.8 x 208.3 cm). Courtesy the artist and Petzel Gallery, New York. Photo by John Kennard. © Dana Schutz

Dana Schutz, Conflict, (2017). Courtesy the artist and Petzel Gallery, New York. Photo by John Kennard. © Dana Schutz

Dana Schutz, To Have a Head, 2017. Oil on canvas, 36 x 32 in. (91.4 x 81.3 cm). Courtesy the artist and Petzel Gallery, New York. Photo by John Kennard. © Dana Schutz

Dana Schutz, To Have a Head (2017). Courtesy the artist and Petzel Gallery, New York. Photo by John Kennard. © Dana Schutz

Dana Schutz's Big Wave (2016). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz, Big Wave (2016). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz's Flasher (2012). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz, Flasher (2012). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz's Building the Boat While Sailing (2012). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz, Building the Boat While Sailing (2012). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz's Slow Motion Shower (2015). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz, Slow Motion Shower (2015). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz's Shaking Out the Bed (2015). Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, promised gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. Photo: John Kennard.

Dana Schutz, Shaking Out the Bed (2015). Collection of Vicki and Kent Logan, promised gift to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, New York. Photo: John Kennard.

Dana Schutz's Elevator (2017). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz, Elevator (2017). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz's Carpool (2016). Collection of Carole Server and Oliver Frankel. Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

Dana Schutz, Carpool (2016). Courtesy the artist and Petzel, NY. © Dana Schutz.

“Dana Schutz” is on view at the ICA Boston through November 26.


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