|How We Would Give Birth by Dana Schutz|
|Presentation by Dana Schutz|
|Dr. Heinrich Stadelmann by Otto Dix|
The cartoonish quality of paintings such as "Presentation" divert our attention away from the gruesome subject matter. We don't actually believe that she witnessed an autopsy. It isn't Dana's priority nor her capacity to make expressionistic art. Her work makes light of the grotesque. There is a distance between her subjects and her emotions and its this quality that perhaps truly makes her work grotesque.
In comparison, the Otto Dix show at Neue Galerie in 2010 which was also full of vulgar, disturbing, degenerate imagery, approached the grotesque from an insider's point of view. His work was much more violent and difficult to look at. Dix's work is not as colorful and cute as Dana's paintings... so how did Otto get so many people to love his work? Some people I'm sure are attracted to it because of historical significance (he volunteered to fight in the trenches of WWI for Germany), or mastery of technical skill... or perhaps his audience likes the challenge of stomaching the gruesome images he painted of war. But I think people love Otto Dix's art because it unashamedly expresses psychological, emotional, and physical suffering... the kinds of feelings most people try to forget about and/or feel ashamed of. His work reveals to us these haunting wounds in such an unpretentious and unselfconscious manner.
Dana Schutz's treatment of the grotesque is more akin to George Condo, who had an exhibition of his work at the New Museum in NY earlier this year. I regret not going to see his work... I almost can't forgive myself. Anyway, the disconcerting nature of Condo's work is like Schutz's on steroids. But again, Condo and Schutz are more grotesque than Dix's work precisely because they make it humorous and absurd. You won't find anything funny about Dix's series of war prints or his treatment of prostitutes and crippled war veterans. His paintings are explicitly and brutally realistic, but there isn't a stroke of his brush that is not sincere. And it is precisely this sincerity and/or conviction that Dix paints with that separates his art from that of the fantastical work of Condo's and Schutz.
Dana has a wild imagination and offers us some creative insights into painting. But I can't say much more about works like "The Sneeze" and "Face Eater" other than that they're "cool". Yet all in all, Dana is a terrific painter. I love the size of her work. I love her drawings. And I love a few of her works. No doubt whatever she's doing, she's doing it well.