Dana Schutz - Contemporary Art Day Sale New York Friday, November 14, 2014 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Zach Feuer, New York

  • Catalogue Essay

    In Schutz’s kaleidoscopic Q-Tip Sculptor, the viewer is presented with a tableau that is at once familiar and strange. Before us, surrounded by a Kandinsky-like coppice, an engrossed young woman ties a bundle of sticks to a branch. Captivated by the task at hand, she wears headphones to occupy her as she works: whether music plays or she is merely blocking the sounds of the forest is unknown to us. As we stare into her fixed gaze, we wonder what is the purpose of her labor? As in many of Schutz’s paintings, Q-Tip Sculptor establishes a narrative tone yet refuses to resolve its meticulously assembled story elements. Schutz explains, “I don’t like feeling bound by a specific story or narrative, but I do feel that the paintings could be sort of self-contained stories. They contain events that imply action and outcome. I usually end up making stories around them despite myself.” (D. Schutz in interview with Maurizio Cattelan, April 2004) Indeed, in its maelstrom of chartreuse, periwinkle and hunter green, it is impossible not to build one’s own narrative when viewing Q-Tip Sculptor.

    But whether this woman is tending to the tree or somehow dismantling it is anyone’s guess. The inherent ambiguity is a trademark of Schutz’s vibrant, narratively-charged works. Critic Katy Seigel suggests that by blurring the narrative delineators of start and end (or building or tearing down), she is avoiding aligning herself with an art historical ideology. “…Schutz creates a model of creation that blurs beginnings and endings, avoiding the dramatic genesis of the modernist blank canvas, as well as the nihilistic cul-de-sac of the appropriated media image.” (K. Seigel, 2006) Still, Schutz is not without art historical markers in her work. Employing color blithely with a preoccupation with flatness and geometry, Schutz nonetheless captures a rather off-putting facial beatitude in the woman’s features, reminiscent of early Netherlandish portraiture. Often described as “teetering on the edge of tradition and innovation,” Schutz’s work truly manages to be both referential and entirely of her own creation.


Q-Tip Sculptor

oil on canvas
42 x 47 1/2 in. (106.7 x 120.7 cm)

$120,000 - 180,000 

Sold for $149,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Day Sale
New York
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Contemporary Art Day Sale

New York Auction 14 November 2014 11am