DANA SCHUTZ | Death Comes to Us All, 2003 | oil on canvas
Sold for $482,500 at the Contemporary Art Evening Sale, 10 May 2012, New York, achieving an auction record for the artist.
I wanted the subject matter to look like it could be rearranged — a scene that could be reconstructed, or a picture that could disassemble or blow away. Something kind of jumpy and active, but not a mechanical, op-art thing. (Dana Schutz, quoted in “What Painting Wants: A Q&A with Dana Schutz,” ARTINFO, May 10, 2010).
In the violent and flammable Death Comes to Us All, 2003, Schutz presents us with a hybrid figure, in a hallucination that appears all too real. Plucked from our nightmares, this chimera invades our subconscious with its animalistic head, robotic torso, and adolescent legs. Yet while the upper portion of the figure appears crazed and demonic, it stands in a common parking lot, surrounded by a lush field. This contradictory circumstance probes the viewer to wonder whether the subject is a phantom of the imagination, a hallucination, an apparition. Schutz, playing by her own rules, blurs the reality where life and art converge, through her portal-like canvases. The mutated figure consolidates figuration and abstraction, as if the result of a monstrous experiment. The effect of this visual and kinetic collision is of a vision abandoned, unbounded, and limitless.