‘The Dinosaur Variations’ by Thomas Woodruff to Display at Vito Schnabel Gallery

    Thomas Woodruff’s third solo presentation with the Vito Schnabel Gallery, titled The Dinosaur Variations, will be on view from February 9th until March 30th at 455 West 19th Street in New York.

    The exhibition will focus on recent paintings by Woodruff depicting prehistoric creatures in the moments before their demise. It is a continuation of a series Woodruff started in 2020, during the pandemic lockdown, which debuted in his solo show, Resurrection, at Vito Schnabel Gallery in 2022.

    Within the confines of his Hudson Valley studio, Woodruff began to compulsively draw dinosaurs, viewing them as expressions of pathos and melancholy appropriate for such a challenging time. Despite Woodruff’s meticulous rendering of his dinosaur subjects, the resulting paintings push against the expectations of “paleoart” and other forms of natural history illustration, casting the dinosaurs as the dramatis personae of an apocalyptic production as opposed to paleontological specimens. 

    Throughout The Dinosaur Variations, Woodruff plays with historical art references, reinterpreting motifs and themes associated with the art of the past to examine current events. For example, The 3 Graces (2022) features three theropods linking arms in a field of white magnolias, recalling the titular group of goddesses in Botticelli’s Primavera — albeit this time, they are watching a fireball threaten the skies. In the triptych The Large Bathers (2023), Woodruff adapts a classical subject taken up by artists from Titian to Cezanne, depicting three long-necked “Nessie”-esque monsters immersed in water as flame-filled orbs rain down all around them. Lastly, drawing its inspiration from performance history, the commanding pterodactyl at the centre of Maya Lacrimosa (2023), shrouding her babies under her wings as a storm rages around them, is a cross between The Nutcracker’s Mother Ginger and Maria Callas’s Medea.

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