Tuesday January 9, 2018
Tags for: The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Dana Schutz: Eating Atom Bombs
  • Press Release

The Cleveland Museum of Art Presents Dana Schutz: Eating Atom Bombs

exterior of the CMA building

Exhibition debuts new paintings created over the past year Opens Friday, January 19, 6–8 p.m., Transformer Station

Cleveland, OH (January 9, 2018) – This month Dana Schutz returns to Cleveland with a new exhibition, Eating Atom Bombs, featuring a group of 12 paintings and three drawings created primarily in the past year. Seven of these works have never been exhibited before. The exhibition’s title speaks to the precariousness of our current political and social moment. Eating Atom Bombs belongs to a number of museum programs that have recently featured contemporary artists who are from or who trained in Northeast Ohio, including Wadsworth and Jae Jarrell, Scott Olson, Jerry Birchfield, Liz Roberts and Henry Ross. Eating Atom Bombs will be on view at Transformer Station from January 20 through April 15, 2018. The exhibition is free and open to the public.

“The work of Dana Schutz has had a presence in our contemporary art galleries since 2014,” said William Griswold, director of the Cleveland Museum of Art. “The exhibition highlights a compelling new group of paintings, and it celebrates an artist with deep ties to Cleveland.”

Schutz graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2000, and references the Cleveland Museum of Art’s collection as a formative influence upon her artistic practice and career. One of Schutz’s paintings, Assembling an Octopus (2013), is currently installed in the museum’s contemporary art galleries. In 2016, Schutz was the speaker at the museum’s annual Contemporary Artist Lecture, addressing an enthusiastic crowd in Gartner Auditorium. Eating Atom Bombs is curated by Reto Thüring, Curator of Contemporary Art and Chair of Modern, Contemporary, and Decorative Art, and Performing Arts, with Beau Rutland, former Associate Curator of Contemporary Art, in close collaboration with the artist.

With bold brushwork, a vivid palette, and inventive compositions, Schutz’s figurative work sifts through the wide spectrum of human instinct and behavior, a hallmark of her practice. Schutz deftly employs hypothetical situations and imagined scenarios—such as the last man on earth or a multitasking swimmer who can do the front crawl, smoke and cry at the same time—in an attempt to illustrate what it feels like to navigate and live through our present time. 

Eating Atom Bombs seeks to illustrate not what tears us apart and divides us, but rather the universal emotions and experiences that bind us together. Many of the paintings that will be on view depict figures in states of introspection, conflict, and concern. Together they mourn, console, defend themselves, and flee the scene. Some of the figures even seem to be aware of themselves and the edges of the painting, reacting against the limitations of their surroundings. Biblical motifs pervade these works, including wrath, expulsion, deposition (the descent of Christ from the cross), and pestilence; the figures either set off for a new world or struggle with the one they have. 

“In her newest works, Schutz continues to reflect on the quickly changing social and political landscape in the US,” said Reto Thüring. “In a manner that is characteristic for Schutz, the paintings are comical and sad, playful and grave at the same time.” 

A painting by Dana Schutz—not in the CMA show—was exhibited at the 2017 Whitney Biennial, igniting public debate around the representation of racial violence in art, and the role of artists and institutions in that dialogue. A discussion between Schutz and artist and historian Nell Painter, Edwards Professor of American History, Emerita, Princeton University and author of the books The History of White People and Creating Black Americans, will take place in Cleveland. Schutz and Painter will participate in a public conversation about painting as a medium at this particular historical and political moment and touch on the controversy surrounding Schutz’s Open Casket painting (see below for additional program information).

Dana Schutz was born in Livonia, a suburb of Detroit, in 1976. She earned a BFA at the Cleveland Institute of Art in 2000 and an MFA at Columbia University, New York, in 2002. Her work has been the subject of multiple solo and group museum exhibitions both nationally and internationally, including a recent solo exhibition at ICA Boston, a survey at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, and an exhibition of new works at the Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, Germany. Dana Schutz: Paintings 2002–2006, organized by The Rose Art Museum, traveled to MOCA Cleveland in 2006. 

Transformer Station is located at 1460 West 29th Street, Cleveland, Ohio, 44113.

Hours: Wed/Sat/Sun 11–5; Thurs 11–8; Closed Mon/Tues.


Friday, January 19, 2018 | 6–9 p.m. 
Public Opening for Eating Atom Bombs 
Transformer Station

Saturday, January 20 | 1 p.m. 
Dana Schutz in Conversation with Nell Painter
Gartner Auditorium, Cleveland Museum of Art
Dana Schutz joins acclaimed historian and artist Nell Painter in a public conversation about the possibilities and limitations of painting as a medium at this particular historical and political time. The panelists will also touch on the controversy surrounding Schutz’s Open Casket painting, included in the 2017 Whitney Biennial, which takes as its starting point the subject of Emmett Till’s open casket funeral in 1955. While Open Casket will not be part of Eating Atom Bombs, the work provides an opportunity to contemplate questions about what art can and should say and the responsibility of art museums in these conversations. Former director of Princeton’s African American Studies program, Painter is the author of the critically acclaimed books The History of White People and Creating Black Americans. A working artist, Painter completed an MFA at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2012. Her paintings engage global histories of race, gender and self-perception.

Thursday, January 25 | 6 p.m.
Friday, February 16 | 12 p.m.

Thursday March 8 | 6 p.m.
Curator Talk: Eating Atom Bombs 
At Transformer Station
Curator of Contemporary Art Reto Thüring will lead a tour of the exhibition. 

Sunday, January 21 | 2 p.m.
Sunday, February 25 | 2 p.m.

Thursday, March 22 | 6:30 p.m.
Close-Looking Sessions: Eating Atom Bombs 
At Transformer Station 
Explore select works in Eating Atom Bombs through a series of questions that look closely at the connection between the state of America today and Schutz’s paintings. Free, registration required. Maximum of 15 people per 30-minute session. 

Dana Schutz: Eating Atom Bombs is made possible in part by support from the Scott C. Mueller family.


The Cleveland Museum of Art is supported in part by Cuyahoga County residents through a public grant from Cuyahoga Arts & Culture. The Ohio Arts Council helped fund this exhibition with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence, and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans.

Contact the Museum's Media Relations Team:
(216) 707-2261