Dana Schutz has not yet painted a canvas that didn’t make me wish that I was looking at a Judith Linhares instead. That said, I’m glad I could see any Schutzes at the ICA, which wouldn’t have happened if it were up to some local busybodies bent on punishing her for her abortive Emmett Till painting (which is not on display) until the end of time.
These are genuinely ambitious attempts to create big historical dramas two centuries after The Raft of the Medusa through surrealist allegory. Almost every picture has at least one passage of real flair: the crimson and viridian flesh tones in Big Wave, the oddly Hittite look of the figures in Car Pool (2016).
But taken as a whole they are cacophonies. Not even Picasso could pull off multifigure, life-size, high-chroma cubist paintings, and Schutz can’t do it either. The ensuing freakishness looks affected and her ventures into vorticism, such as Shaking Out the Bed (2015), are a mess. Call it, if you will, a Schutzshow.