In 2002, fresh out of the Columbia MFA program, Schutz captured critical attention with a body of work devoted to a fictional "last man on earth," painted as if from direct observation. But her real breakout came with a 2004 series exploring Self-Eaters, visceral renderings of grotesque beings devouring their own limbs and faces, which alluded darkly to Goya and to the act of recycling in contemporary painting. Recent works show figures disintegrating in more mysterious ways, with nods to Jasper Johns and Magritte.
Her art has been included in important group exhibitions including Greater New York at PS1 Contemporary Art Center, The Triumph of Painting at the Saatchi Gallery, and After Nature at the New Museum. A nationally touring survey of her paintings, Dana Schutz: If the Face Had Wheels, opened in the fall of 2011 at the Neuberger Museum of Art in Purchase, New York; the museum also awarded her the Roy R. Neuberger Exhibition Prize.