Amy Sillman

  • Paul Taylor, Scudorama, 1963. Performance view, David H. Koch Theater, New York, November 1, 2022. Center: Maria Ambrose. Photo: Whitney Browne.


    The curtain rose quickly to reveal a quiet stage dominated by a huge rectangular backdrop painted by Alex Katz with puffy clouds arrayed in pink-violet tones, though it was hard to say which colors were painted and which were conjured by Jennifer Tipton’s perfect lighting. On the bare stage were eight clumps: the dancers lying motionless, two of them covered by cheerfully patterned beach blankets. Everything in this dance—Paul Taylor’s Scudorama, 1963, staged this past November at New York’s Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in an all-Katz evening of Taylor dances—already seemed funny but

  • Paul Cézanne, Route à travers bois (Road Through the Woods), ca. 1900, pencil and watercolor on paper, 18 1⁄4 × 23 1⁄2".

    BEST SHOWS OF 2021

    AS SOON AS I GOT BACK to New York from my Covid-period cave, I marched up to the Museum of Modern Art to see “Cézanne Drawing,” organized by Jodi Hauptman and Samantha Friedman, because, I mean, if you’re a painter, you’re supposed to somehow know how and why Cézanne was a genius. But what’s a genius anymore, and what does that even mean? Here was this introverted guy who lived in a vacuum, who ruffled up the picture plane like he was running his hands through its hair, unpinning it. I had seen an amazing portrait show a few years ago in Paris, and I knew that the likes of Elizabeth Murray and

  • Louise Fishman in her studio, New York, April 2016. Photo: Christian Hogstedt/Art Partner Licensing.


    “It is unstraight lines, or many straight and curved lines together, that are eloquent to the touch. They appear and disappear, are now deep, now shallow, now broken off or lengthened or swelling. They rise and sink beneath my fingers, they are full of sudden starts and pauses, and their variety is inexhaustible and wonderful.” . . . The author is a blind woman, Helen Keller. Her sensitiveness shames us whose open eyes fail to grasp these qualities of form.

    —Meyer Schapiro, “On the Humanity of Abstract Painting,” 1960

    THERE WAS AN EMAIL in my inbox on July 26 from Louise Fishman’s wife, Ingrid

  • Ann Weathersby, I regarded my reflection, 2020, mixed media on window panels, pigment print, dimensions variable.  This is in my studio, an oculus windows collage made of my own and found photographs.  I’ve been thinking about losing the ability to be a voyeur, and about empowerment and disempowerment when looking, and being looked at.  I’ve been adding things here and there, and the images interact differently as the viewer changes their physical position in relation to the windows
    slant May 22, 2020

    Daily Drawings: Week Five

    As people around the world stay indoors to curb the spread of Covid-19, Artforum has invited artists to share a drawing—however they would like to define the word—made in self-isolation. Check back each day this week for a new work by a different artist.


    Curated by Lauren Cornell

    When I think of a “surveyor,” I think of that guy (yeah, humph, usually a guy) in a utility suit with a mysterious tripod, taking the measurements of the terrain and marking it with chalk and sticks. That’s not unlike my conception of Leidy Churchman, whose early videos feature exactly such tools, and whose entire project could be described as a kind of survey of the world, and as a culling, sampling, rearranging, and remaking of its signs and systems. This summer, American viewers will have their first opportunity to survey Churchman’s enchanted and estranged artifactual

  • Laura Owens, Untitled, 1999, acrylic and oil on canvas, 102 × 122".

    Laura Owens

    Contradictions should be appreciated for letting change emerge.
    —Carolee Schneemann

    WHAT DO I KNOW ABOUT LA, but my first reaction to the Laura Owens show was, Wow, this is so West Coast. Paintings made in LA always struck me as being these huge, clean things, which I figured was because they were designed to be visible from the highway. In New York City, we walk around, so our painting surfaces aspire to the condition of sidewalks—dirty, scruffy, and layered. In fact, painting history generally reflects a city’s local conditions, its techniques of the body; consequently, some cities

  • Florine Stettheimer, Portrait of My Sister, Ettie Stettheimer, 1923, oil on canvas mounted on hardboard, 40 3/8 × 26 1/4".


    I grew up assuming Florine Stettheimer was famous, since a large painting of hers hung at my hometown museum, the Art Institute of Chicago. But it turned out I was lucky to have regular access to a Stettheimer, because even though she hosted a well-known salon and had pals like Duchamp and Stieglitz, she remained obscure to a wider art public until half a century after her death, when, in 1995, the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York held a retrospective of her work. Working in private, she was able to forge a distinct pictorial terrain, with

  • slant January 05, 2017

    Unpresidented Times: Amy Sillman

    The following is something I jotted out the day after the election. I happened to be making a zine for a show at the Drawing Center in NYC, and purely by coincidence the printing deadline for the zine was that week. I was shocked by the election results, and had no idea how to process the news or how to make art for a show that would open in January or how to return to a studio at all. But a zine is a fast and furious public/private form of address, so I just knew that I should write something, a kind of letter, about how to approach this new time.

    A FEW YEARS AGO we were knocked out by the first

  • Rochelle Feinstein, Geography, 1994, oil and mixed media on linen, 42 × 42".

    “Rochelle Feinstein: In Anticipation of Women’s History Month: Selected Works”

    The world needs change, and Feinstein is a motherfucking cashier. She seizes abstract painting with her bare hands and injects it with wit and wisdom, redefining its borders to include a riotous intermix of moods and subjects. She gets her hands dirty, shoving the grid around and voraciously appropriating anything that interests her: napkins, Barry White songs, storage systems, kitty cats, and feelings of revenge. In doing so, Feinstein calls the whole world into question, and her work elicits nothing short of new feelings. Curators Stroun and Barshee

  • Nicole Eisenman, Beer Garden with Ulrike and Celeste, 2009, oil on canvas, 65 x 82".

    Nicole Eisenman

    Nicole Eisenman’s early work pictured a triumphant matriarchy doing ecstatic things together. In recent years, her protagonists have swung down from their heroic heights, post-Valhalla, to pursue the homelier stuff of life, and we find them in a bleaker mood at kitchen tables and in beer halls, eating, texting, napping, gazing, snogging, waiting for a drink. To her bag of tricks Eisenman has added a new motif: the close-up. She cuts to the big heads of various perplexed individuals in her Rabelaisian crowds, their faces confronting us with comic moods of befuddlement,

  • Donna Summer and dancers in concert, ca. 1977. Photo: Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.


    I FEEL KIND OF BAD FOR AB-EX. At sixty-something, the old bird’s gotten the gimlet eye from just about everybody: It’s vulgar, it’s the phallocracy, it’s nothing but an empty trophy, it celebrates bourgeois subjectivity, it’s a cold-war CIA front, and, well, basically, expression’s really embarrassing. A dandy wouldn’t be caught dead doing something as earnest as struggling, or channeling jazz with his arms. An old-style dandy, at least. T. J. Clark’s 1994 text “In Defense of Abstract Expressionism” made AbEx’s connection to the vulgar perfectly clear, rendering it bathetic in all its ridiculous

  • Amy Sillman


    1 The books and collages of Aleksei Kruchenykh Aside from inventing (with Velimir Khlebnikov) zaum, the radical sound poetry of Russian Cubo-Futurism, Kruchenykh also cobbled together dozens of artist’s books in tiny editions, using materials purloined from his day job at a railway office. They’re like little cannonballs— powerful kernels of “explodity,” to use one of his words. And they explore not only language but collage: One of Kruchenykh’s books from 1916, Universal War, features cut-paper collages that anticipate Matisse’s paper cutouts but contain more overtly political