Dana Schutz: Jupiter’s Lottery at David Zwirner in November




Image: Dana Schutz, The Island, 2023. © Dana Schutz.

David Zwirner is pleased to present new large-scale paintings and sculptures by Dana Schutz at 525 and 533 West 19th Street in New York. This will be Schutz’s first solo exhibition with the gallery and will coincide with a major survey of the artist’s work, on view from October 2023 to February 2024, at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, where it traveled from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark.

Among the artist’s most ambitious in scale and complexity to date, the viscerally evocative paintings and sculptures in Jupiter’s Lottery depict allegorical scenes in which often grotesque characters negotiate their subjecthood.

Painted wet-on-wet, Schutz’s tragicomic situations are populated by characters preoccupied with self-preservation as they tilt towards oblivion. With mask-like features—all jaws and noses—they emerge, in groups and pairs, out of the painterly atmosphere. The depicted subjects are volumetric and malleable, like drifting clouds. Their organic forms are echoed in the gestural sculpture also present in this exhibition.

Dense with color and mood, Schutz’s paintings make the human predicament visible and the indescribable felt. The Gathering (2023), the largest work in the show, evokes the narrative structure and horizontality of a history painting. In a rural landscape dotted with distant fires, figures take part in an ominous communion. In paintings such as The Arbiters (2023) and Table Scene (2022), figures huddle around tables carrying out gruesome exchanges. Other works depict intimate scenarios where representation operates on a continuum, as subjects appear like puppets, material apparitions, or constructions.

The theme of painting itself is addressed in works such as Parrots (2023), which depicts three vain beachgoers trying to catch parrots while a wave crashes behind them, washing up hand mirrors and unsettling avian perches. The birds hover like brushstrokes in midair, and the figures dissolve in the gestural cacophony. In Dear Painter (2023), a large-headed woman lies in bed, being posed both as a subject and a painter in a staged studio-like space. Against a bright green backdrop, she seems unwell, staring vacantly, her large head resembling that of a mascot, as she is being dressed and painted.

The exhibition also presents new large-scale sculptures. Modeled in clay before being cast in bronze, these works, Schutz’s largest yet, give three-dimensional, gestural form to her imagined characters and scenes. Their active surfaces show the traces of the artist’s hand and process, lending them a loose immediacy and plasticity that mirrors the newfound physicality of the figures in her paintings. The dynamic, shifting forms of these larger-than-life-sized sculptures can only fully be perceived in the round, with figures emerging out of a central mass and set on pedestal-like bases that mimic the post-calamitous terrains of Schutz’s paintings.

The largest of these, Sea Group (2022), presents a tangled mass of struggling figures huddled on an indeterminate island composed of forms resembling bones and crutches; together they coalesce into a billowing whole made up of interconnected parts. Large Model (2022), by contrast, presents a solitary, monumental figure emerging from a churning patch of ocean, her gaze and pose simultaneously confrontational and exhibitionist. Wearing nothing but a swimsuit of carved stripes, she rests her hand on a jutting thigh while the other absurdly holds a handbag. Schutz’s sculptures, which she began making in 2018, are of the same pictorial world as her paintings, and the two sides of her practice have since continued to together animate and engage the formal, experimental, and pictorial possibilities of her work.

The exhibition’s title references Aesop’s fable of the same name, which recounts how the Roman god Jupiter established a lottery for mankind, with Wisdom as the top prize. When Minerva—the goddess of wisdom, and Jupiter’s daughter—won, Jupiter appeased the angry crowd and silenced their murmurs by presenting them with Folly in place of Wisdom. Thenceforth, as the moral of the story goes, the greatest fools have always looked upon themselves as the wisest men.

On the occasion of Jupiter’s Lottery, David Zwirner Books will publish a catalogue featuring newly commissioned essays on the artist’s work by Jarrett Earnest and Kenneth Silver. Additionally, a new Phaidon monograph of Schutz’s work will be released in the fall that includes contributions by Hamza Walker, Dan Nadel, and Lynne Tillman.

About the Artist ~ Dana Schutz (b. 1976) is a Brooklyn-based painter and sculptor who constructs complex visual narratives that engage the capacity of art to represent subjective experience. Often depicting figures in seemingly impossible, enigmatic, or invented situations, her works reveal the deeper complications, tensions, and ambiguities of contemporary life.

Schutz was born in Livonia, Michigan, and received her BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art and her MFA from Columbia University, New York. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

A major solo exhibition of the artist’s work, Dana Schutz: The Visible World, is on view at the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris from October 6, 2023, to February 11, 2024; the exhibition traveled from the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebæk, Denmark. Recent solo museum exhibitions of the artist’s work include Dana Schutz: Eating Atom Bombs, held at the Transformer Station, Cleveland (2018), which debuted a series of paintings by the artist; an exhibition of new work at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2017); a career survey at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (2015); and a comprehensive solo exhibition at The Hepworth Wakefield, United Kingdom (2013), that traveled to the Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, Germany (2014).

In 2011, the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York, presented Dana Schutz: If the Face Had Wheels, a retrospective featuring paintings and drawings created by the artist over the previous decade. The show subsequently traveled to the Miami Art Museum and the Denver Art Museum in 2012–2013. The artist’s work has been the subject of additional solo presentations at institutions worldwide, among them the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver (2012); Atlanta Contemporary Art Center (2011); Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin (2010); and Museo d’arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy (2010). In 2006, the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts, presented Dana Schutz: Paintings 2002–2005, which, later that same year, traveled to the Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. The artist’s first solo museum presentation was held in 2004 at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Johnson County Community College, Overland Park, Kansas.

Schutz’s work is held in numerous public collections, including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney; Cleveland Museum of Art, Ohio; Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museo d’arte moderna e contemporanea di Trento e Rovereto, Italy; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Rubell Museum, Miami; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Ulrich Museum of Art, Wichita State University, Kansas; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.

Dana Schutz: Jupiter’s Lottery will be on view from November 2 to December 16, 2023 at David Zwirner, 525 & 533 West 19th Street, NYC. An Opening Reception will be held on Thursday,, November 2 from 6-8pm.