Amy Cutler examines the individual psyches of the female characters who have populated her work for more than a decade in her first group of portraits. Entitled Brood, the series includes nineteen works painted in gouache on paper in which she articulates the individual personas of her imagined subjects, telling their stories through sartorial hints, subtle poses, hairstyles, and facial expressions.
Amy Cutler is internationally known for exquisitely detailed narrative works of art created through a pastiche of personal memories, political observations, and cultural insights. Inhabited mostly by female figures who perform enigmatic tasks and engage in impossible situations, Cutler's works expose the emotional complexities of real life within a rich imaginary universe. In the new works, she offers the viewer a more intimate encounter with her community of eccentric protagonists.
Always beginning her narratives with the faces of her characters, she describes them as "the starting points of their personalities. Once they are established, I am able to dress them and to move forward with the development of the story."
Portraiture, as the newest direction in her work, has enabled the artist to create fuller psychological profiles. Working on multiple images at once, she has written about feeling
… surrounded … as though I have stepped into their stories. The individual personas dictated my perception of how they might function as a group. At first I had the notion that they were all members of a religious sect or an organized labor union. But, as is the case in my other paintings, the characters themselves established the direction of the final works. They each spoke to me separately and protested against a uniform. So the result was a group of individual women who are bound together by their stubborn independence and unwillingness to conform.
The series also introduces the artist's use of Japan paper, a support that enhances the luminosity in the eyes and faces of the characters. Recalling Holbein and Cranach, they transcend history, most tagged with Middle–European names (e.g. Agnes, Analiese, Berta, Alma, Helmina, Magda) that are decidedly old-fashioned.
One-person museum exhibitions of works by Amy Cutler have taken place at SITE Santa Fe; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia; the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina; the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, Brunswick, Maine; the Art, Design & Architecture Museum, University of California Santa Barbara; and the Huntington Museum of Art, Huntington, West Virginia. She has participated in group exhibitions and major surveys at museums throughout the world including, among many others, Drawing Stories: Narration in Contemporary Graphic Art, Museum Folkwang, Essen, Germany; I-Lands, Kunsthallen Brandts, Odense, Denmark; Global Feminisms, Brooklyn Museum, New York; ARS 06, KIASMA Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; Greater New York, MoMA PS 1; and the 2004 Whitney Biennial.
Works by the artist are featured in distinguished private and public collections, including The Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; the Indianapolis Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North Carolina; and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles.
Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects is located on the sixth floor of 535 West 22nd Street, between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. Gallery hours are 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.