Home Culture Dana Schutz’s Boat Group: dystopian visions and existential angst

Dana Schutz’s Boat Group: dystopian visions and existential angst


A weekly Information column wherein we dissect the influences and interpretations of a murals

Via the hearth …

Dana Schutz has made a ferocious bounce again from the controversy that threatened to swallow her profession during the 2017 Whitney Biennial, the place she debuted her portray Open Casket. This was based mostly on the {photograph} of the useless black teenager Emmett Until, brutally murdered by two white males in 1955. At his mom’s insistence, his physique was exhibited to hundreds and photographed. Broadcast to the world by way of Jet journal, Until’s story was a big catalyst for the civil rights motion. Schutz’s abstraction of the enduring picture was, for some, an extra act of violence and sparked one of many artwork world’s most fiery debates about off-limits material.

2020 imaginative and prescient …

It was additionally an outlier in Schutz’s oeuvre: grotesque cartoonish work filled with darkish mirth and insanity. Open Casket may need sounded a false be aware however what she has since produced – an more and more dystopian imaginative and prescient in thick layers of paint and with a hat doffed to the grasp of existential angst, Philip Guston – feels completely of this second.

Motley crew …

In 2020’s Boat Group, Schutz turns the still-life cliche, a bowl of fruit, right into a crazed Raft of the Medusa. Rather than plums and apples we get a gang of monstrous heads, glowing with color like luminous deep-sea creatures, and able to topple overboard. A Punch-type puppet dangles its lifeless arm like a redundant oar, leaving them directionless in blood-black waves.

Darkish waters …

Boats are a recurring motif for the artist, sometimes precarious remoted vessels whose passengers aren’t any match for the opaque waters that encompass them – a risk that they ignore. Right here, the motley bunch is likely to be actually all in the identical boat, however their enormous staring eyes by no means meet. Their gazes appear fastened on unknown private obsessions.

Thomas Dane Gallery, WC1, to 19 December


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