Dana Schutz, Young Brünnhilde (2011)
With watercolors, colored pencils and crayons, Dana Schutz presents a whimsical and striking interpretation of the opera Götterdämmerung to complete the Gallery Met’s four-part series of exhibitions inspired by Wagner’s Ring cycle, organized by Dodie Kazanjian. While Wagner’s Götterdämmerung (which translates to “The Twilight of the Gods”) is a superpower of an opera—filled with betrayal, loss, and the clash of gods and men—Schutz’s exhibition breathes life and light into the melodrama.
Dana Schutz, Brünnhilde (2011). All images courtesy of the Gallery Met
The bright bold colors prominent in Schutz’s work at first seem contradictory to such weighty subject matter, but Schutz makes clear in the exhibition’s description that this was a deliberate choice. “Wagner can be very heavy, so I wanted to approach this project in a way that could seem lighter,” she says. “I chose to make watercolor monoprints with crayon and pencil. There’s a lightness and crispness that is different from traditional watercolor technique and very different from oil painting.”
Dana Schutz, Brünnhilde and Siegfried (2011)
Character takes center stage in the pieces Schutz has created for Götterdämmerung. The heroine, Brünnhilde, appears strong and dominant amid the swirling shapes and color blocks. Even when embracing her lover Siegried, she holds her sword upright, poised for battle. “She is a fascinating character,” Schutz says of Brünnhilde. “Very powerful but convicted. She takes the whole world down, as well as herself.”
Dana Schutz, Siegfried (2011)
Dana Schutz, Drowning (2011)
The thick, sometimes scribbled lines that course through Schutz’s canvases give her work a sense of playfulness, while the colors—pink, aquamarine, goldenrod, and scarlet—lend a childlike sense of wonder to the paintings. The opera is fanciful, full of dragons, Rhinemaidens (or mermaid-like creatures), and fire, and Schutz’s exhibition reminds us that beneath the story’s gore and glory there is pure fantasy.
Dana Schutz, Down (2011)
Dana Schutz, Fire Girl (2011)
Dana Schutz, Rhinemaiden (2011)
– A. Stone