February 24th, 2020

Amy Sillman: The Shape of Shape
Amy Sillman, The Shape of Shape (Installation View), all images via MoMA

The Museum of Modern Art announces a new installment of its Artist’s Choice series: The Shape of Shape by Amy Sillman. In this series, facilitated by the museum’s expanded gallery renovations, a contemporary artist organizes an installation drawn from the Museum’s collection. Recent participants include Peter Fischli (2018), David Hammons (2017), Trisha Donnelly (2012) and the architects Herzog & de Meuron (2006). For this new installment, the New York painter has collaborated with The Marlene Hess Curator Michelle Kuo and the Curatorial Assistant from the Department of Painting and Sculpture, Jenny Harris to present a packed install with a range of works in exchange with her own compositions.


Amy Sillman-The Shape of Shape-MoMA
Amy Sillman, The Shape of Shape (Installation View)

The exhibition includes over 75 works selected from the Museum’s collection, installed in a unique shelving display on the fifth floor of The Jerry Speyer and Katherine Farley Building.  The Shape of Shape sees Sillman choosing works from a wide range of time periods, places and medium, including sculptures, paintings, prints and collages. Guiding her curatorial process is the idea of Shape itself, often disregarded, in comparison to other topics such as color or systems. In spite of centuries of ideas about color, and endless literature on it, there is barely any debate on shape, a point that the artist found of particular note in research for her own practice, and used as the thread that connects these varied clusters of work, running through a range of representations and clusters on the canvas.  Bodies move in and out of focus, or stand absent, replaced by blocky forms and shadowy references.

Works draw on tensions of scale and focus, as tension and crises of depiction make up many of the comparisons and exchanges on view in the show.  Sillman focused in particular on the more ambiguous and spatially ambivalent of her initial selection, pieces that allow shapes to move in and out of states of recognition, while expressing intriguing intersections of stillness and movement. Sillman’s personal affinities also come into play, pieces that carry personal histories and significances in exchange with the illusory, uncertain and subjective shapes she so often explores. This need for unpredictability and ambivalence spurges from our current times of crisis and instability: a show about politics without ever saying the word itself.

The exhibition closes on April 20th.

Amy Sillman: The Shape of Shape
Amy Sillman, The Shape of Shape (Installation View)

— E. Etrari

Read more:
Artist’s Choice: Amy Sillman – The Shape of Shape [MoMA]
Amy Sillman discusses “The Shape of Shape” at MoMA [Art Forum]