University Museums

Title: Understudy
Name: Painting
Date: 1986
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 54 x 54 in. (137.2 x 137.2 cm)
Classification: Paintings
Credit Line: Gift of the Class of 1976. In the Art on Campus Collection, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Location: Iowa State University, Christian Petersen Art Museum
Object Number: U89.62
More Information
Stephen Schultz' oil paintings offer a look into sparsely decorated spaces occupied by an individual, or perhaps two, who appear in a mood of contemplation. Painted in rich umbers and cast in yellowish light from a single source, Schultz' rooms suggest that some droma has either just taken place or is just about to unfold.

In UNDERSTUDY, two male figures occupy a darkened room. Dramatic light cast from an unknown source cuts its way through the thickness of mood generated by the facial expressions and body gestures of the two figures. Their eyes peering off to their right at a person or occurence we cannot see. The composition is dark and disturbing, laden with anxiety.

With this piece, we are silent observers of a moment in time. Stephen has captured a scene and altered our perception of it by incorporating atmosphere-altering devices such as dramatic lighting, psychological revelation of the central characters, muffled color combinations and course application of the paint. Our perspective is such that we are part of the scene, sensitive to the action taking place, yet removed and separate from it. Of his work Stephen writes, "My ambition for these paintings is to expose within common moments evens which are extraordinary and more than commonplace."