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The metaphorical painting of Dana Schutz
la-peinture-metaphorique-de-dana-schutz - ARTACTIF
January 2024 | Reading time: 21 Min | 0 Comment(s)

About the exhibition "Dana Schutz. The Visible World", at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris until 11 February 2024.

Dana Schutz's paintings? Exorbitant eyes, heaps of torn bodies, huge mouths, saturated universes, an offbeat sense of humour... and colours, colours, colours... All the more vivid and luminous because they emerge from an inhabited darkness. An expressionist painting then? Or a surrealist painting? A bit of both. A lot of both. A real discovery for me in any case! And a real crush. Which makes me really want to tell you more about this contemporary American artist, painter and sculptor, born in Michigan in 1976. I'd also like to thank the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, which is devoting a major exhibition to her: the first of its kind in France. I'd also like to thank the contemporary art magazine Artpress, which inspired me to go and see her thanks to the very comprehensive interview it published in its November 2023 issue.

And then I fell head over heels in love with them: how could I have overlooked these works of art so far, when they are everything I love, so much to say! They move me so! The main thing is to meet them one day, you might say. Art is an immense source of joy, an inexhaustible source of discovery. Of wonder. Or not. Of countless paradoxical sensations. And what a joy it is to see painting and sculpture re-emerge everywhere in all their human potential, in these times of high technology and artificial intelligence. I don't know whether those of you reading this subscribe to ARTactif to sell your own art or to buy the art of others, but in either case I'm sure you know what I mean. As much as we love him, our little Genius here offers us the opportunity to target a genre we love, without stopping us from taking a few steps aside to let ourselves be surprised!

In short, Dana Schutz. I looked in my art books to see if she had slipped my mind, but I couldn't find her listed. Perhaps I don't have enough art books yet... Now I have a good excuse to add to my collection. As the New York art critic Eleanor Heartney so aptly wrote in the interview published in Artpress, "Dana Schutz is one of the leading exponents of Surrealist Expressionism, exemplified by painters such as Max Beckmann, Philip Guston and James Ensor. Her paintings depict absurd situations, in a style in which the innovations of modern abstraction are mixed with references to symbols of popular culture". Around forty of her most recent paintings, as well as drawings and prints, are on show at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris in the exhibition "Dana Schutz. The Visible World" exhibition at the Musée d'Art Moderne in Paris, with a few of her sculptures sprinkled throughout.

Take your time to wander between these works of art charged with meaning, these incredibly powerful paintings, which Klaus Biesenbach saw as a bridge between comics and social realism, when he curated one of Dana Schutz's first exhibitions in New York in 2001. In silence, if possible, immerse yourself in this painting, which is unlike any other, while having a false air of Goya as well as Käte Kollwitz, of Giotto as well as Robert Colescott, of Paolo Uccello as well as Picasso... And which also reminds me of the painted work of Clair Arthur, a contemporary artist living in the Vosges whom I warmly recommend you take an interest in, before his works of art for sale become more and more difficult to access on the art market.

"I'm definitely inspired by certain artists, but the list changes all the time," confirms Dana Schutz. "Sometimes I'm surprised. Even with an artist whose work you think you don't really like, sometimes you find things you didn't even know you needed."

Philip Guston, however, is one of the artists whose work she is sure to like. "I've just been to the Guston exhibition in Washington," the artist tells the Artpress critic of their special affinity. "It was great to see his abstract paintings. They are so beautiful. I've always loved his late work, but I think I'd missed his abstract paintings a bit. When you see this break with his figurative works from earlier periods, you think he must have felt like he was flying away. The earlier works, with the masked children, were stifling and tight, whereas the abstract canvases are wilder. Painting them must have been an exhilarating experience. You can feel it in his painting. Then, at a certain point, he felt constrained by abstraction. It didn't allow him to say everything he had to say. So he had to detach himself from it, but his later work is marked by this way of painting."

I still wonder how I missed the work, or at least the name, of Dana Schutz six years ago, when one of her paintings was the subject of a heated debate between the advocates of committed art practised by all and for all, and those of an art that only allows artists from a particular community to denounce the suffering experienced by that community. Open Casket, an oil on canvas from 2016, was inspired by the photograph of Emett Till, the African-American teenager lynched in 1955 for talking to a white woman in Mississippi. A photograph of a tortured body, which Till's own mother made public during the funeral to denounce racist violence in the United States. A photograph that contributed to the birth of the civil rights movement. It inspired a painting by Dana Schutz, at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement was bringing the issue of racial discrimination back to the forefront. The controversy exploded when she wanted to exhibit it at the 2017 Whitney Museum Biennial: the African-American artist Hannah Black objected on the grounds that a white artist could not "profit" from the suffering of black people. The museum decided to exhibit Dana Schutz's painting with an explanatory label. Open Casket had never been a work of art for sale.

"I painted this picture in the summer of 2016, in America, because it raised a question in my mind. Dana Schutz replied to Eleanor Heartney when the art critic reminded her of the "culture war", an expression used in the United States to describe the controversies that have pitted reactionaries against progressives on social issues since the 1980s. "The painting was never for sale, even before the biennial. I didn't like the idea of it circulating on the market. But this work made a lot of people suffer. It was important for me to be open and listen to what people had to say. It wasn't just the painting that was in question.

And it's because Dana Schutz's paintings are not just images that they speak so much...


Valibri en RoulotteArticle écrit par Valibri en Roulotte

Illustration : Mountain Group, 2018
Huile sur toile
Collection Marguerite SteedHoffman
Photographe : Jason Mandella Courtesy l'artiste et David Zwirner, New York ; Thomas Dane, Londres ; Contemporary

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