Episode 4: William Dutterer
Episode 4 focuses on three drawings by William Dutterer, which she brought into the collection of the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2015.
For some reason, the anniversary of 9/11 struck harder than other years. The idea of an anniversary is an artificial construct. I mean, twenty years, some 7305 days, there’s nothing concrete about it. So why did the twentieth strike so hard?
Over the years, I acquired works of art for the museum’s collection that were pointed in tone, tackling either political, social, or some other tough topic. I kind of became known for my interest in difficult art. I believe that art can present ideas that cause people to think harder about stuff, and that artists are society’s court jester, the character at a royal court who was part comic part critic, and was just about the only person who could tell the king or queen what was what. Artists hold a unique position in society. High stakes, culturally influential, etc.
In 2015, I secured a gift from the estate of the artist William Dutterer. The three drawings were part of a group of works featuring simplified cartoon-like heads that were wrapped, blind folded, or gagged. Dutterer was already working in this mode when he watched the second tower fall from the roof of his SoHo loft on 9/9/2001. They take on even more urgency seen through that lens, and twenty years later their significance is still potent.
Dutterer’s oeuvre includes other themes, but the heads are my favorite. Well, I do love the Joe Diver paintings. I tell people a lot that works swim around in my head, and these are no different. During the last year I have been working with Catalyst Contemporary, a gallery in Baltimore. When the gallery’s curator, Liz Faust, and I were brainstorming about upcoming shows, Dutterer popped into my head. Gallery owner Brian Miller reached out to Jamie Johnson, who was married to Dutterer until his death in 2007, and who manages his estate, and plans were formed to exhibit Dutterer’s work at Catalyst Contemporary. That exhibition, A Lie Not a Wish, opened appropriately on 9/11. It is open until October 9, 2021. The exhibition is focused on the heads and axes, which are related to the works Johnson donated to the BMA. It all comes full circle.
Images: copyright The William S. Dutterer Trust
Music: Michael Diamond
Host and resident curator