Boy with Bubble

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  • Provenance

    Berlin, Contemporary Fine Arts - CFA
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    Montreal, Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, Dana Schutz, 17 October 2015 - 10 January 2016 (illustrated)
    Berlin, Contemporary Fine Arts - CFA, Waiting for the Barbarians, 17 September - 29 October 2016, pl. 5, pp. 8, 10 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    American artist Dana Schutz is known for integrating painterly traditions with dark humour in her works. Depicting grotesque imagery and anamorphic paintings with saccharine colours, her subject matter is highly imaginative and often centred on surreal situations that explore the nuances of the human condition. Exhibited in her first solo exhibition in Canada, a 14-year retrospective at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (MACM), the present lot Boy with Bubble showcases a light hearted, bubble-gum depiction of her typically more violent works. Though less ostensibly unsettling in terms of its subject matter, the work still retains a seductively disturbing quality that highlights her interest in psychological expression.

    As the title indicates, Boy with Bubble depicts a boy against a mountainous scene interacting with a soap bubble in wide-eyed wonder. Rendered in the traditional single-point perspective, the roundness of the sun is echoed by the spherical bubble and the boy’s unnaturally rotund head, occupying the majority of the composition. As explained by Schutz in her audio commentary for the work in the MACM exhibition: “I was interested in this distorted view of the world through the soap bubble and this sort of moment or instant where it could all disappear.” (Dana Schutz, quoted in ‘Boy with Bubble audio commentary’,, online). Within the soap bubble, the vibrant scenery of the Alps in springtime is magnified, illustrating a sense of surreal ephemerality to the world before it pops. Schutz’s characteristic style of compressing large spaces into the confines of the canvas further evokes a sense of suspense; her preference towards painting in high chromatic temperatures demands the viewers’ attention as the world within the frame seems to be bursting at the seams--much like the titular bubble. As compared to the weightless transparency of the bubble, Schutz’s use of flat, candy-like colours, and the materiality of paint conveyed through her brushstrokes in the illustration of a boy flushed with excitement adds considerable heft to his head. In the way one anticipates for the bubble to pop, the viewer cannot help but feel that the boy’s jawbreaker-like head could roll off or topple at any second. At the same time, the boy’s expression, with his bulbous eyes and wide-open mouth could almost be interpreted as sinister. It is unclear whether he is marvelling at the wonders reflected in the bubble, or whether he is about to burst and destroy the bubble itself. Underneath the aggressive projection of a scene of childlike innocence and wonder, the painting simultaneously conveys undercurrents of foreboding and anxiety that is both unsettling yet compelling.

    As a contemporary artist who takes her inspiration from the old masters in art history, Schutz’s works are predominantly preoccupied with painterly conventions. The artist is very deliberate in her placement of colours, varying the texture of the image with brushstrokes that range from large flat blocks of colour that layer seamlessly (as can been seen in the rendering of her mountains); to clean lines that seem to cut through the canvas (such as the details of the sun, and the pink flush of the boy’s cheek). Schutz pays great attention to her technique, evoking a sense of marvel and beauty in an otherwise surreal, and often grotesque and disturbing narrative.

    Following the MACM exhibition, the present lot was also exhibited in Waiting for the Barbarians, the artist’s fifth solo presentation at Contemporary Fine Arts Berlin. Dana Schutz is represented by Petzel Gallery in New York and Contemporary Fine Arts in Berlin. Her work has been included in prominent museum collections such as the Solomon R. Guggenhein Museum, Los Angeles Country Museum of Art (LACMA), the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum of American Art. The artist currently resides and works in Brooklyn, New York.

  • Catalogue Essay


    如題所示,《泡泡男孩》中的小男孩在群山背景中張大眼睛充滿好奇地玩弄肥皂泡泡。畫作採用傳統的單點透視,圓圓的太陽與球形泡泡和男孩誇張的大圓腦袋互相呼應,佔據了畫面一大部分。舒茨在其於 MACM 展覽的語音講解中提到:「我很喜歡肥皂泡中看到的扭曲世界,還有那種一切可能隨時消失的瞬間。」(達娜·舒茨,錄於〈《泡泡男孩》語音導覽作品說明〉,截取自網路)在肥皂泡中,阿爾卑斯山充滿生氣的春天被放大了,在泡泡破裂前向世界呈現那超現實的短暫美麗。舒茨把寬大的空間壓縮到畫布範圍內,引起一種懸念,是舒茨的標誌性風格,她作畫偏愛暖色系,抓住觀者的注意力,畫框內的世界似乎在即將爆裂的邊緣,與題目相呼應。一方面是泡泡的無重透明體,一方面是描繪男孩的平面糖果般色彩的顏料,他滿臉的興奮,更為腦袋添加了幾分重量。觀者既預期泡泡會破裂,也不禁擔心男孩碩大的腦袋可能隨時會滾下來。與此同時,男孩的表情、瞪圓的雙眼和張大的嘴巴都透露著一點邪惡。到底男孩是對泡泡裡反射的奇觀感到好奇有趣,還是即將要爆炸或他要摧毀泡泡,我們不得而知。看似童真無邪的畫面背後暗藏侵略性,畫作蘊藏預感和焦慮,既讓人心神不寧,又緊扣心旋。


    繼 MACM 展覽之後,此作又於藝術家第五次個展:於柏林 CFA畫廊舉辦的「等待野蠻人」中展出。達娜·舒茨的代表畫廊為紐約 Petzel 畫廊和柏林當代藝術畫廊。其作品已被納入所羅門·R·古根漢博物館、洛杉磯美術博物館、大都會藝術博物館、紐約現代藝術博物館和惠特尼美國藝術博物館等著名博物館收藏。舒茨目前在紐約布魯克林居住工作。

  • Artist Bio

    Dana Schutz

    American • 1976

    Michigan-born artist Dana Schutz is known for presenting chaotic, colorful scenes that often inject humor into awkward or painful situations. Though primarily a painter, her practice expanded into sculpture in 2019—a natural transition for her dynamic style. Schutz first shot to prominence soon after receiving her MFA from Columbia University with her Self-Eaters series. 

    Schutz is one of just a handful of living female artists whose work can fetch over $1 million at auction. The Brooklyn-based artist has shown her work in museums in both North America and Europe, and her work has been collected by such institutions as MoMA, the Guggenheim and LACMA. She is married to fellow artist Ryan Johnson, who she met during her time at Columbia.

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Boy with Bubble

signed and dated 'Dana Schutz 2015' on the reverse
oil on canvas
101.9 x 127.3 cm. (40 1/8 x 50 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2015.

HK$800,000 - 1,500,000 

sold for HK$2,750,000

Contact Specialist

Isaure de Viel Castel
Head of Department, 20th Century & Contemporary Art

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 26 May 2019