Whitney Biennial 2017

Solo en Inglès

Colorful abstract painting of people and insects

Dana Schutz (b. 1976), Elevator, 2017. Oil on canvas, 144 x 180 in. (365.8 x 457.2 cm). Collection of the artist; courtesy Petzel Gallery, New York and Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin. Photograph by Bill Orcutt

Dana Schutz: My name is Dana Schutz. I’m an artist who lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. 

I’ve made a few paintings of people fighting in an elevator. It came from the Jay-Z and Solange fight—the famous fight in an elevator! It just struck me as something that was really a great subject for painting, because it’s a sort of suspended action and in a way kind of a history painting that can play out in a very ephemeral, finite space, a very short amount of time. And it also feels very public and private at the same time. I’m interested in that for a painting. I think when I’m making a painting I’m always trying to figure out how things fit within the box, or within the format of the painting. 

With this painting, the figures are struggling with each other. They’re trying to fend off these giant bugs, and also small bugs. But they’re kind of climbing each other. I was thinking the people themselves start to feel like bugs. The large bugs—it’s something very nightmarish, or the outside is coming in.