New York

Amy Sillman

Sikkema Jenkins & Co.

Not so many years ago, while teaching the “theory” class at an MFA program in New York, I was told winkingly by the (it so happens: tenured, male) chair of the department that what I offered the students was all well and good, but that at the end of the day, “you don’t need to read to paint.” Though conferred upon me in this case by a proud, self-declared anti-intellectual, the sentiment is hardly rare. Indeed, for all the attention paid to so-called Conceptual painting and its attendant practices over the (at least) past four decades, a kind of inherent allure remains—for better or worse—around the indubitably material, highly particular properties of paint on canvas. (Too often, painting’s irreducibility is said to drive its market readiness, as though collectors can’t just as easily acquire other artistic products, or as though the medium is somehow wholly aligned with bourgeois taste.

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