Dana Schutz - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Wednesday, March 6, 2019 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

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

  • Catalogue Essay

    ‘I like that slippage between something being very actual and imaginary.' Dana Schutz

    Brooklyn-based artist Dana Schutz’s work combines innovation and pictorial virtuosity to create dynamic, striking compositions that blur distinctions between past and present. Her subject matter is highly imaginative and often centred on surreal situations that explore the fallibility and nuances of the human condition. Known for her reworking of painterly traditions with her own contemporary, darkly humorous approach, Schutz’s work has continued the dialogue with Expressionism, Dada and the work of artists such as Philip Guston and Maria Lassnig, whom both share Schutz’s interest in psychological exploration. In an interview given in 2004, Schutz elaborates on her unique style: ‘although the paintings themselves are not specifically narrative, I often invent imaginative systems and situations to generate information. These situations usually delineate a site where making is a necessity, audiences potentially don’t exist, objects transcend their function and reality is malleable’ (the artist, quoted in Painting 2004, exh. cat., Victoria Miro Gallery, London, 2004, online).

    Exemplifying this concept of malleable reality, Romance (2006) juxtaposes a common artistic subject matter, a couple’s embrace, with a surreal and visually arresting foregrounding of a luminous, outsized brain-like form on a pedestal. The two elements of the scene are interwoven in a seemingly static tableau which is nonetheless granted a liveliness of movement from the amorphous, fluid shapes and gestural lines that characterise Schutz’s work. The viewer’s eye is drawn from the embracing couple to alternate pairings in the work: the two sets of twinned pedestal supports, the misshapen outlines of two lightbulbs, and the potentially teasingly self-reflexive inclusion of two works of abstract art that flank the couple in the background.

    Undulating lines give the indication of a ceiling and delineate a space for the painting’s action but the liveliness of the scene means that it is anything but closed off. Speaking on the structure of her compositions, Schutz states. ‘I’m never interested in the painting being a mirror to culture. I think that’s really boring. What I’m interested in is painting as an affective space. The place where the hierarchies of the world can be rearranged within the space of a painting’ (the artist, quoted on ArtNet, online). Romance is a key example of these inverted hierarchies as the titular promise of romance is humorously usurped and replaced by the centrality of the abstracted brain, creating a compelling and disjointed imaginary world.



signed and dated 'Dana Schutz 2006' on the reverse
oil on canvas
181.7 x 152.6 cm (71 1/2 x 60 1/8 in.)
Painted in 2006.

£150,000 - 250,000 

Sold for £471,000

Contact Specialist
Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Head of Day Sale
+ 44 20 7318 4065

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 8 March 2019