Amy Sillman


Painter said...

Amy Sillman @
Sikkema Jenkins and Co.
530 West 22nd Street
New York NY 10011

triple diesel said...

Solid "American" painting,spontaneous and direct. Compare it to the programmed, controlled Charlene von Heyl show. But is it old-fashioned?

ultraglom said...

american, german or whatever, sillman has got nothing on von heyl. von heyl is a far more gutsy, adventurous and edgy painter than sillman.

i think this show is not her best. i appreciate that the cutesy weird little figures have all but disappeared, but the increase in scale of the paintings seems to give her some problems. they just don't hit it. they fall a bit flat and the colors are not as strong as they have been in the past. like i mentioned last week, i think greenbaum does a far better job of this type of work than sillman does.

triple diesel said...

Hmm, I found many figures in this new show. But nice comparison to Greenbaum, the latter more minimal, geometric, and diagrammatic than Sillman, scrawling and scrubbing her clusters of brushstrokes.

ultraglom said...

true there are figures. . . i should have said "better disguised". . .
they just do no jump out they way they have in the past.

flesheater99 said...

This image actually makes me excited for once to go see a painting show and is head and shoulders above her safe pastoral worlds of the past few years.

RE:Von Heyl--Her work borders on adventurous but she pulls up short of REALLY saying anything. Her work 'appears' risky but isn't. Based on her recents she gets the surface to a point of 'looking good' and then throws on the brakes without actually breaking through to something else...kinda like this Sillman image HOWEVER this appears to be a breakthrough for Sillmann as she's certainly expanding her vocabulary.

ultraglom said...

and what is sillman actually "saying"?

i don't see these as anything close to breakthrough paintings but more a sort of abstract posturing, of trying too hard to be a master and falling drastically short. von heyl's paintings ARE more developed, more detailed and more complicated then these ever could be. von heyl is interested in painting, not in "being a painter".

no-where-man said...

safety dance. looks like a A in grad school.

no-where-man said...


Jerry Saltz of the Village Voice, art
Nicolai Ouroussoff of The New York Times, architecture.
Robin Givhan of The Washington Post, fashion.

dubz said...

sillman works her magic with just paint.. i love von heyl but it's nice to see someone doing it without devices like taping, spraying etc... i'm not exactly a purist but it's damn hard to do it with brushstrokes rather than juxtaposition of this and that, fat/skinny, loose/controlled...etc. know what i mean?

sillman's new work seems tougher this time around...less cute... she's pushing the gesture guston initiated (the emotive conflicted mark) somewhere else.

zipthwung said...

Flesheater has it right

"Her work 'appears' risky but isn't"

by all accounts - but on the other hand what is, as was stated...

Come back with an agenda dudes!

The problem here is one of loose and painterly vs. overworked. You dont know where that line is until youve crossed and re-crossed it.

Another way of say thing that is paint by numbers vs fuck-all.

Isnt it weird how something that is apparently painted a pleine air and a la prima can actually be sort of an academic exercize?

That said I like how this academic paintic looks - it say "hey I paint a lot and I know where the line is, almost"

fuck yeah.

Look who Jerry is up against - its like putting Brangelina up against the Autistic children or something...you do the personality test. I have one on file if you want it or if you ride the subway you can hit them up at Times Square.

Fact is science fiction and truth reality...

ultraglom said...

now i am wondering if anyone has actually spent the time to even look at a von heyl. there is nothing paint by numbers about it. anyway, i'll let jerry do the talking on von heyl--he hit it right on in his review last month.

and yes sillman is academic. loosey goosey is about as academic as it gets these days. not that being tight and controlled and planned out is a great alternative. but come the fuck on! if i see another established artist get swayed by the schutz-ification of painting, i'm gonna fucking puke.

flesheater99 said...

u-glom--you're being ultra literal when asking "and what is Sillman saying." 'SAYING' in painting is just that. It is. It Does. What does it DO for you? What IS it to you? What it says to you I don't know.

What is it 'saying' to me?

It 'says'"Hi I'm Amy Sillman and I used to make paintings that are totally safe and babies would love. Now I'm fooling around with heavier(literally) issues and stepping out of my own comfort zone a little. In fact wether or not I realize it I look a lot like the new Ghery building being erected on the West Side Highway. I have updated my references. I have flipped my gender i.d from girl to male(maybe) fiction writer. And I still like paint."
^^^That's what this one image says to me.

and, uglom, you say that these are not breakthrough paintings. You're right. I said these are "breakthroughs for Sillman" (regarding her pictoral history)...not breakthroughs for paintings pictoral/or physical history.

zipthwung said...

ultraglom and flesheater I nominate youse for an online Pulizer.

I havent seen much of von heyl but I've seen Greenbaum a couple of times over the years.

I'm suspicious of that kind of markmaking activity, in the same way I hate it when I see some sunday painter ensconced in a dumbo studio with sweeping manhattan views. In both cases I ask, is that all there is? And if so, why am I not doing that?

Or is that what its saying?
Because in a way it's not saying that at all, in a contextual kind of way.

I never read the press releases and and I'm allways afraid to talk to strangers because the debased black speech (DBS) of the peoples of Mordor are painfull to my ears.

ultraglom said...

i suppose i was responding to your stating that von heyl isn't "REALLY saying anything". . .apologies if i have been ultra literal

my feeling is that these are not breakthroughs for sillman, which was my point. she has done better in the last two years. i find the surfaces to be dead and i found myself continually thinking of j. greenbaum

but i definitely agree she has stepped out of her comfort zone, which is never a bad thing and will probably produce something fantastic

no-where-man said...

heavier? i was at the opening there was nothin heavy going on.

ultraglom said...

ahhh, the peoples of mordor. . .

wod zar xam said...

I think what I liked most about Sillman's older works was the middle ground she straddled between cartoon and abstraction. It was cute a lot of the time, but also served to "say" a lot more than most of the works in her current show seem to say. For me, that narrative is always key to my enjoyment of a work, though I know a lot of others don't have the same criteria when looking at art.

I do like the look of these pieces at times, but don’t they really occupy a kind of redundant space in the litany of painting? Sometimes I think these could have been made in 1948 - they look like jazz era modernism a lot of the time. The anarchistic surfaces of her paintings help to deflect that sense about her work somewhat, I guess, though I think De Kooning was right there with her.

To me, the piece shown here is one of the stronger pieces in the current show. Something that the jpeg doesn't really give a good look at is the intense variability between some of the colors. Those green lines really look amazing in person - the color seems soooo tube born, it is an amazing moment of differential against a lot of the other more complex and muted tones in the painting.

Her painting “Unearth” is still the quintessential Sillman to me, just an amazing painting that conveys a lot of grand themes without ever letting you be sure about what you are looking at. This one looks like it is trying to go there, with that mountainous landscape and giant-face, but falls short in an attempt to remain more abstract. I wonder if her shift is partially in reaction to a lot of painters who adopted aspects of her style and ran with it (like Schutz)? Is this a portrait of Mountain Man? That’s what I would call it.

zipthwung said...

The dictionary definition of illustrate is to explain or make clear.

An abstraction can be apart from concrete existence (someone elses emotion) a theory (someone elses emotion) or difficult to understand (someone elses emotion).

Painting can make an emotional state clear, and thus illustrate that state without explicit representation (abstractly).

Illustration can thus be abstract.

Painters like R. B. Kitaj and Frank Moore (thanks RS!) may seem to be illustrational, yet still pack an abstraction.

This particular painting doesnt seem to contain much in the way of abstraction, except in space or spatial representation. I dont get much more than that.

THe perspective might be at a worms eye view, a child on the floor, looking up. Or it might be something else.

The sketchy lines denote or connote but do not emote.

The line between illustration and abstraction is not a fine one, nor a fat one, but an inky moon.

The mail will not stop, no, it will fall like salt, mined from the earth, then thrown to the stars. WASTE.

flesheater99 said...

Mordor? Me, I'd rather hang with the Priests of the Temple of Syrinx.

z-wung it's an honor just to be nominated, really.

I went to see this show during lunch. No biggie. The one here is the best of the bunch though some of the others have their moments.

no-where-man said...

Mordor eh? sounds right to me. How can we sleep when our beds are burning?

buy low sell high?

(Bloomberg) -- Refco Inc., the bankrupt trader, won court approval to auction its art collection, including photos by Andy Warhol and Andreas Gursky, to raise money for creditors owed $16.8 billion.

The New York futures broker amassed 510 contemporary-art photos before it filed for bankruptcy protection on Oct. 17. The photos could fetch as much as $7 million, Frances Dittmer, who assembled the works and is the ex-wife of former Refco Chairman Thomas Dittmer, said in January.

wod zar xam said...

$16.8 billion, huh? Better be some serious photos...

zipthwung said...

Money, it's sublime.

The play's the thing Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the King

Or not. If the meek ever inherit the earth, push them down and take it back, right?

beadelog said...

Seems like the only risk here is getting paint where it shouldn't be or, I'll be damned, wherever it should. Risky business.

beadelog said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
operation enduring artist said...

i find this image quite compelling...
first i think
how dated,
then i think
holy '06,
then i think
west coast,
then i think
east coast,
then i think

quite nice.

closeuup said...

T’was in the darkest depths of mordor
I met a girl so fair,
But gollum, and the evil one crept up
And slipped away with her.
Her, her....yea.
Ain’t nothing I can do, no.

Hey this painting is called Big Girl. A bit of DeK and Guston in there, but certainly she's moved on. All the paintings in the show look figurative to me. I see The Sphinx in this one, and I like it.

no-where-man said...

Gonna work my way, round the world.

chris moss said...

first off I'd like to say sillman is using a bolder primary palette (as opposed to "the egyptians" of a few years back which relies on the impressionist trick of mixing white with every color). Okay so it's still washy but it's an improvement. That is to say, I think her paintings of a few years ago contained a certain mud quality (that reads as a curse these days but it's not, she used it well) but this work is less tonal for it. (The shift is subtle and I haven't seen the show yet so maybe I'm wrong. I'm going on thursday.) However I've always liked the string-beans line she uses to build the work, it's yummy.

In her words she's stopped covering over the "drawing" for the painting. It's both more and less considered, it's more considered because every 'mark' (I hate this Yale-ism) is worth more, less considered because vitality of composition is left open, the meat is more raw and vulnerable. In other words, in some ways she's holding back and in others she's being more direct. That signals to me that these paintings aren't a breakthrough so much a transition, or an elaboration or a new framework. She's covered a lot of ground recently so I don't blame her for it. I wouldn't be surprised if the breakthroughs are in her studio right now and weren't picked for this show because they're not 'enough'.

the painting is called big girl and is probably related to "the egyptians" in that it looks like a sphinx. I appreciate this kind of continuity of theme.

(can I say here that I don't trust the interviews for this show yet. The Brooklyn rail interview was a bit weak.)

the paint looks more aggressive here too. Is she responding to linhares and schutz, yeah sure, they share some of the same sensibility.

as for the von heyl argument I think there is a huge difference between the two, von heyl is like a thunderclap, her spacial configurations tear a hole in the canvas like boom-smack, they leave one out of breath. That's the german in her, the big dumb american attitude mixed with the 'rip them a new asshole' german approach works like a disembowelment works, it leaves you gasping for air (and your junk). Sillman is a different story, her thunder doesn't clap, it rolls. She uses some of the devices von heyl uses, out of the corner of the canvas, from the top, from the side but Von Heyl frightens and you run for cover but in Sillman's case it's followed by a downpour of rain that drips into the gutter long after the storm is over. Both are, at their best, a memorable storm to watch.

Vlahos Boyiajees said...

Amy Sillman's work is amazing. I haven't seen her new work but will soon. Since the first time I saw her paintings back in 1997 in SoHo I was put in my place, moved emotionally, and ispired artistically. I was almost in love. I thought "I have to marry this woman cause she gets it!" Haha. Needless to say, 9 years later, I never fogot that exhibition. As a student of painting her work taught me a lot. The girl just paints, she doesn't f**k around. Bravo.

Painter said...

I will be back tonight.

dawn_quixote said...

I think you can do that with no problems at all.

zipthwung said...

oh no a philistine! Put on your kitch blockers! Release the hounds! Prepare the soup cans!

burrito brother said...

I can't get into this. It's just more swirling design/architecture looking bits. The messy version of Julie Mehretu. It's like people who are into jazz. You like the microcosm of that particular language with it's set of rules and what you can do within it. It either interests you or it doesn't. At least when it was more figurative, it was stretching those rules a bit. Now it's stepping back completely into that ab-ex world.

bada said...

I find particularly fascinating how she references architectural forms... yet retains an organic, amorphous feel. Her looming forms that demonstrate this architectual premise, i find it strange how they tend to always look uninhabitated. Perhaps, it's as if the cutsey characters of before are like nymphs and these monoliths are their homes, the structures within which they live. But with this work it seems to be more apparent, now with no character in view that perhaps these monoliths are characters in themselves. as if the cutsey little characters weren't inhabitants, as they never really inhabit her monoliths, but instead are pre-forms, nymphs, and the monoliths the latter mature forms. In other works, the characters are in the picture right with the huge monoliths, but they seem to carry the same weight, even though you'd think the little characters could live in the monoliths, with their volumous geometric thelves. In this painting, there are no characters, just one of the monoliths, or perhaps a colony of them. In this sense, the geometric lines that allude to architecture, that give feelings of spatiousness, they're like the insides, the bones, the organs, et al. structures that hold up the integrity of an organism, and she paints the insides and the outside at the same time... she shows the entirety of the a whole organism, whole in itself...and all in one image. striking.

(oh, it's such fun to make poetic comments about art?)

closeuup said...

oh yes, i see ab/ex coming back. re-legitimized if you will. and all you who dont get it now will be jumpin on the bandwagon then--or at least you'll have to be talkin about it. thru your gritted teeth.

but right now, before everyone gets on board, it's sweet for those of us who have loved it all along.

zipthwung said...

all the best critics were/are poets. Look it up.

wod zar xam said...

Hey Chris Moss great write up. I have a lot of trouble writing about art that I consider non figurative (just not what gets me excited about painting), but its great to hear people get into it.

Ab Ex coming back? Maybe as a "look", but certainly not as a movement. I think a lot of painters are getting excited about throwing paint around, and the way that it can look on a canvas, but that is not going to be the end all of their pieces, more so a visual trick perhaps to get the look that they want. Sillman seems to be about 95% expressionistic, 5% figurative. I think that is very extreme for this day and age, and you won't be seeing many painters getting that far into the abstractive aspects of their paintings.

beadelog said...

What about painting for the people who don't care about art. Genres along with religion are for those who don't know what they are doing. My soup cans are in the microwave.

zipthwung said...

Feed the Lions! Release the bees!
Bread and Circuses!

no-where-man said...

how is this ab x?

JD said...

bb, I agree with you. (surprised??!!) I probably need a second look at this show, but for me these felt a little backward-looking. I think it's possible, though difficult, to make work which references Ab-Ex yet still feels fresh and contemporary, but the slashing strokes, the particular reds, pinks and greens, and even the scale feel overly indebted to both DeKooning and Guston. I appreciate Sillman's courage in jettisoning the drawing/figuration moves which have proved so successful for her; I wonder if this is transitional work, like someone above had suggested. I feel like some kind of synthesis might be needed, in which she doesn't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

zipthwung said...

Throw out the baby! Drink the bathwater!

Gin and Rummy for my tummy!

Ab Ex in the way that DK was ab ex after moving to the Hamptons and started staring at the caustic patterns of water, fishing, and then, later, the television set.

Colors glowing phosphors RGBeees buzzing witht he last big bang, Humababa is watching telelvision in the cedars.

Whos name is oedipus, whos mind is fire and ice.

Snow, falls on the quiet mind, murdering thought, clogging the arteries.

Attack! Attack! Attack!

Schematic sphinx

What walks like a woman but talks like a man in the evening?

What walks on four legs but is also, a man?

Conundrums are better than puzzles. Paradoxes for the masses!

Sawhorses prop up roll of lard, daliesque, the persistence of time running forwards or backwards, but allways flying. Eyes Eyes Eyes.

Put your photons in the deathstar.

Icy schematics.

averywhitelabels said...

i dont understand these posts. this is so not ab-ex, and i dont think sillman intended it to be ab-ex either, from what i've read. there are images of hands holding birds, images of hands grasping things, images of puppets being manipulated by puppetteers, images of trees twirling dials, people crouching by masses, etc. i dont even think it's that different from her old work. i dont know what you're looking at but this show is filled with images of characters just like her other shows. it's not abstract really and it's not ab-ex either.

Professor Mouth said...

Zipthwung, were you ever a theatre major? The kind that would sit in the back of the classroom, taking down your notes with quill and parchment? Because you sure are one bad-poetry-writing, irritating motherfucker.

I like Sillman's newest show, I think it's her toughest. Anyone who calls this 'Ab-Ex' needs glasses.

And Burrito Brother's comment about Sillman being the sloppy Julie Mehretu is perhaps the stupidest thing I've ever read on these boards. By that logic, the following critical misapprehensions are also true:

Joseph Beuys is the 'dancing german' version of Andy Goldsworthy.

Julian Schnabel is merely 'Robert Ryman at his most insecure'.

Naim June Paik 'looks suspiciously like that bitch who broke up the Beatles'.

And Matthew Barney is just 'John Hughes with a testicle fetish'.

burrito brother said...

You're a sad little man, Mouth. Go back into your cave.

Professor Mouth said...

fair enough. But that Mehretu comment was retarded. Surely, once you've sobered up, you can admit that. Be reasonable, I beg you.

humboldtsquid said...

I wonder if there's a correlation on this blog: the nastier, more snide and sarcastic the comment, the less likely the writer is to have actually shown their work in a commercial gallery. Just wondering...

closeuup said...

coming back--as an influence

averywhitelabels said...

prof mouth isnt sad. he's fucking hilarious. who cares if he shows his work in galleries or not. at least he's not a conservative know-it-all windbag who doesnt have the balls to even show his work on his blog like so many others.

zipthwung said...

"Zipthwung, were you ever a theatre major? The kind that would sit in the back of the classroom, taking down your notes with quill and parchment? Because you sure are one bad-poetry-writing, irritating motherfucker."

No, I didnt go to school in the middle ages. And Im not goth. Nor am I into drama.

Improve your reading comprehension.

Bur. Saddle.

I saw this painting in person and its a signifier, not a signified, in my humble oppinion.

Ergo, it is not a record nor an object, but rather a picture of.

I know this like anyone who has painted for a while would know.

Enjoy your books.

Professor Mouth said...

Thanks, averywhitelabels. But I must caution you against taking my side. This is the 21st century art world, where one has absolute freedom to create any kind of art they wish, as long as they keep their goddamned mouth shut. It's like the market is a big sleeping baby and everyone's afraid that a public argument might wake it.

And Humboldtsquid has a point. Commercial gallery=credibility. Actually, I hope he's right. If a show at John Connelly Presents is all it takes to vanquish my personal demons, I'm stoked.

And would somebody please break Zipthwung's typing hand?

EResourcesForSuccess said...

I can't decide if studying s&p futures really helps of it it's all just a big crap shoot.