Although she is best known for her exquisitely rendered, highly detailed paintings in gouache on paper, Cutler is a profoundly skilled draftsperson. For the first time, nearly one half of the works in the exhibition are drawings in graphite on paper that clearly demonstrate how the sensitivity of her use of line and shading equals the sensual and psychological power of her works in color.
In drawings such as Stow, Cedra, Clementine, and Aidia, all created during the past year, Cutler expands on a theme that she began in 2012 with a series of nearly life-size painted portraits that reveal her subjects’ inner thoughts and feelings by literally depicting what is happening inside of their heads. She writes:
The process of making them monochrome, in addition to the slowness of the pencil, had a very strong connection to the subject matter and the mood that I was trying to convey. They are chaotic but there is also stillness. I was interested in communicating something close to the feeling of holding your breath.The exhibition also includes paintings and drawings that feature new interpretations of her longstanding themes and iconography: anthropomorphic animals and female characters engaged in enigmatic situations. Cutler’s animals are surrogates for intense emotions and states of mind; birds represent fleeting thoughts, pigs are intelligent and stubborn but also vulnerable, and horses equal strength, transition, and mobility.
Acknowledging the influence of traditional Persian and Indian miniature painting on her work, Amy Cutler emphasizes the fact that, while extremely detailed, her works have never been extremely small in scale. (Two of the newest paintings in the show, Semblance (2019), and Harbinger’s Grove (2019) measure nearly five feet each.) Cutler says:
Amy Cutler was born in 1974 in Poughkeepsie, New York. She attended the Staatliche Hochschule für Bildende Künste, Städelschule, Frankfurt am Main, Germany from 1994 to 1995, earned her BFA from The Cooper Union in 1997.
Even though my works are not miniatures, it requires close viewing to see their many details. The sense of intimacy required in viewing extremely small works is something that has always interested me. You have to spend time with the details in order to discover the narrative in my paintings and drawings. In a way, you are having a conversation with the amount of time that has been encapsulated into the process of creating these works.
One and two-person shows of her works have taken place at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, respectively, followed by solo shows at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, Missouri; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; Museo Nacional Reina Sofía, Madrid; Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina; SITE Santa Fe, New Mexico; the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California Santa Barbara; and many other institutions.
Cutler has participated in numerous group shows and major surveys throughout the US and Europe including, among others, the Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Greater New York, MoMA PS 1, Long Island City; ARS 06, Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA, Helsinki; Global Feminisms, the Brooklyn Museum, NY; Darger-ism: Contemporary Artists and Henry Darger, American Folk Art Museum, New York; I-Lands, Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense; Drawing Stories: Narration in Contemporary Graphic Art, Museum Folkwang, Essen; and Drawing Now, at the Albertina Museum, Vienna.
Works by the artist are in the collections of The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Baltimore Museum of Art; the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles; Herbert F. Johnson Museum, Ithaca, N.Y.; Indianapolis Museum of Art; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; The Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., and those of many other distinguished institutions and private individuals.
Works by Amy Cutler can also be seen in Drawn Together Again, at The FLAG Art Foundation, New York (February 23 – May 18, 2019); We Contain Multitudes, Galerie Isa, Mumbai (through March 12, 2019), and in a solo exhibition at The Butler Gallery, Kilkenny, Ireland (August 10 – October 6, 2019).
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