Dana Schutz (b. 1976)
Dana Schutz (b. 1976)

Frank at Night

Dana Schutz (b. 1976)
Frank at Night
signed and dated 'Dana Schutz 2002' (on the reverse)
oil on canvas
32 x 36 in. (81.3 x 91.4 cm.)
Painted in 2002.
Zach Feuer Gallery (LFL), New York
K. Taxter, "Overture: Dana Schutz," Flash Art Magazine, October 2002, p. 96.
J. Saltz, "Wild Card," The Village Voice, 13 December 2002, p. 55. T. Bembnister, "Mmm, Tasty," The Pitch, 10-16 June 2004, p. 31 (illustrated).
New York, Zach Feuer Gallery (LFL), Dana Schutz: Frank from Observation, November 2002-January 2003.
Overland Park, Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Dana Schutz, April-June 2004.
Copenhagen, Galleri Faurschou, The Sorcerer's Apprentice: Late Picasso & Contemporary Painters, March-April 2007.


"What in me is dark illumine, what is low raise and support; that to the height of this great argument I may assert eternal providence, and justify the ways of God to man." Milton, Paradise Lost

In Frank at Night, we find our everyman/no-man Frank looking out into a glittering expanse of stars. The snaking dark waters reach deep into the beyond and suggest the curvature of this private and barren (save one) earth. He is awake and active, perhaps the opposite of his dolorous daytime self and his eyes seem to blaze with equal intensity as the night sky. His posture and placement in the frame invite the viewer into the space while also strengthening the impression of solitude at the end of the earth.
The "Frank from Observation" series, conceived by Schutz as a separate exploration from her linear oeuvre, is a lovingly introspective retrospective of the artist's idea of herself as creator. The subject is in no way autobiographical, but like Schutz's work in general, it allows the artist to play god. As she states "I have never felt guilty about taking him apart, because he would just become something else."
Looking at the expression on Frank's face, it seems that he is clearly enjoying this quiet and beautiful moment, but the eyes betray the inner realization that this is all a stage upon which the artist experiments. This is indeed one of the artist's most conventionally beautiful pieces; the inky night sky blocked out in seemingly simple strokes, a sense of cold and height eking out of the canvas. You can tell the journey Frank took to get here, far from the rock and desert infinity of the other works from the series. It seems to be a punctuated pause from the dolorous poses that we've seen Frank take before. The Frank series moves and changes but there are never any temporal markers of progression within Frank, only within the empty world around him. Day flows into night and the stars rise and fall, but Frank does not change independently of the artist's will.
This loaded existence being nothing to the subject but everything to the viewer and the artist is what make Schutz's work so compelling. As a closed system, Frank is endearingly simple, but instilled with this unrealized potential that we see Schutz continue to develop throughout her career. The Self-Eaters are trapped in their own solipsism and even Frank becomes regurgitated in her later work The Breeders.