TABLE OF CONTENTS

THE ELEPHANT IN THE PAINTING: THE ART OF AMY SILLMAN

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: a phrase that means something is present but invisible, determinative but denied. In painter Amy Sillman’s groundbreaking exhibition at New York’s Sikkema Jenkins & Co. gallery last spring, the idiom served as the loaded title of what is in retrospect one of her key works—a large and, for Sillman, uncharacteristically empty painting. Densely layered but sparingly drawn, the canvas features two perpendicular blocks of color—opaque apricot in the canvas’s lower portion and, atop that, a rectangle of gradated yellow—that describe a space containing little more than what seems a slumping, implausibly green elephant trunk. In the manner of Cy Twombly’s graffitied penis-breast notations, however, this appendage also reads alternately as a female nude (seen in profile) and as something tumescently phallic. Significantly, this figure casts a shadow that partially but

Sign-in to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for artforum.com? Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW at the special holiday rate of $45 a year—70% off the newsstand price. You’ll receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the PRINT EDITION of the February 2007 issue for $17 or the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.