Amy Sillman's Breakthrough Year
October 10, 2020 11:02 AM   Subscribe

"These pandemic months have been so full and fraught, so lacking the silence we foresaw with the initial shelter-in-place orders, that one of its first clichés has fallen into obscurity. Do you remember, mid-March, when everyone kept recalling that Shakespeare wrote “King Lear” while in quarantine? As an inducement to write that novel or learn that new language, it felt hollow as early as April. Well, not everyone lost their focus in the discord and inundation of 2020. Amy Sillman did not. The New York painter...has had a year of unparalleled productivity, even as the coronavirus outbreak kept her from her usual studio." (NYT)

"These dynamic, agitated improvisations, on both canvas and paper, reaffirm her leading role in reviving the fortunes of gestural abstract painting, though here they’re punctuated throughout by — this was a surprise — small, finely turned still lifes of flowers. Definitely not “King Lear,” then. But the show is as fresh, as ardent, as masterly as a cycle of sonnets, brimming with old anxieties and new life."

What’s up now in her new show “Twice Removed,” which opened last week at Gladstone Gallery in Chelsea, is just a fraction of the hundreds of abstract paintings she produced over the last 12 months.

Amy Sillman already scored a big hit last year with “The Shape of Shape,” a show she curated at the reopened Museum of Modern Art.
posted by blue shadows (3 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
 
I know they aren't, but several of the pieces in the Twice Removed show look extremely digital. I think it says something significant that in this day of tablets, Krita, and $15 styluses, the expressive language can be so close. Not to say that paint is in danger of being supplanted by electronic glass-scratchers, but there's a contemporary aesthetic that's not necessarily tied to a particular method, medium, or tool.
posted by rhizome at 2:16 PM on October 10 [4 favorites]


Silliman is so interesting--like she isn't really doing much new--she is using a human hand to isolate a kind of mechincal production, appearing to do both but that is a standard warholian gesture; and she makes ugly paintings beautiful, with garish colours and odd patterns, but you can see that in for example Mary Heliman; and she builds up with a kind of layering instead of formal depth, but that again is a problem of the post digital age, and she is deftly working with some history of decoration in a high femme style--a borrowing of the painters and decoration school in the 1970s; and obviuosly you can see her influence in people like Owens--a show of her and Owens would be deeply productive...but she balances so much, she juggles in ways that are if not new, then innovative and deeply committed to a kind of ragged beauty. She's been a painters painter for a long time, she knows what she's looking at, and at least we are not going after Zombie Formalism.

I also like how she works out the differences b/w painting and drawing, I wish she spent more time as a print maker, and I think that her engagement with the digital could be stronger, but what is here is just slippery in the best way.

What I also love about her, is how much work she is producing, she just constantly makaes work, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't but she is fascinated in how to paint, becomes an explicit process painter in ways that I think she in undercredited for.

I don't think she is doing anything new, but I can never quite figure it out, because of the level of production, the quicksilver quality of her hand, her bright mind, and her historical inheritences.

I don't know what to do with the flowers--i don't think she is doing a van gogh thing, i think she is almost doing a history of female painters working on domestic still life thing, which may be reductive...
posted by PinkMoose at 10:00 PM on October 11 [2 favorites]


Her curation at the Met, of work based on colour and shape is a radical reimaging of the canon: here is a wlak thru
posted by PinkMoose at 10:59 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]


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