Amy Sillman

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Amy Sillman
Born 1955
Detroit, Michigan, United States
Nationality American
Education School of Visual Arts (1979)
Known for Painting

Amy Sillman (born 1955) is an American painter. Her artistic practice also includes drawings, cartoons, collage, iPhone video, and zines.[1] She lives with her dog Omar[2] in Brooklyn, where she also maintains a studio.[3] Sillman is Co-chair, Painting at the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Amy Sillman was born in Detroit, Michigan. Prior to graduating from Manhattan's School of Visual Arts in 1979, she held a wide variety of jobs, including working in a cannery in Alaska, a feminist silkscreen factory in Chicago, and training at New York University as a Japanese interpreter for the United Nations.[5] While a student at the School of Visual Arts, Sillman worked with May Stevens, Joan Snyder, Pat Steir, Louise Fishman, and Harmony Hammond on Heresies: A Feminist Publication on Art and Politics.[6]


Sillman began studying and working in painting in the mid 1970s. Her influences include the New York School (art), Abstract expressionism, and Willem de Kooning and Philip Guston in particular.[7] Sillman does not consider herself an Abstract Expressionist, stating, "I wanted to learn about both Abstract Expressionism and the critique of easel painting—not because I wanted to emulate them, but because I didn’t like them."[8]

Sillman's work is both abstract and representational, incorporating elements such as figuration, collage, and diagrammatic shapes.[9] In a 2006 Artforum article,[10] Jan Avgikos wrote that Sillman’s paintings “mine the edges of abstraction, meshing patches of color with bursts of chaotic line and web-like compositional scaffolding.” Her layered works often include humor, visual jokes,[11] cartoons, psychological elements, and feminist critique.[9]

In a New York Times review of Sillman’s 2006 exhibition at Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Ken Johnson wrote, “The paintings are especially gratifying up close, where you can study the richly complicated textures and colors...” In 2007 Sillman completed four etchings at Crown Point Press, and of this experience, she has said, “Everything that is done in my painting was taken apart layer by layer in printmaking. You take one hundred layers apart and figure out which six will work.”[12] According to art historian and curator Helen Molesworth, "Sillman's oeuvre is marked by radical shifts--in palette, brushwork, scale, and the degree to which a work is structured by the logic of either drawing or painting."[9]

In a 2007 article in Artforum, Linda Norden wrote of Sillman’s “fearless, tenacious pursuit of a painting that might accurately register the discomfort, incoherence, and absurdity that can characterize painterly experience—and experience in general,” and speaks of “her increasingly influential place among younger painters in both New York and Los Angeles, where she regularly shows, and her growing currency even among contingents of European painters.” Art critic Roberta Smith compared Sillman to similar women painters such as Elena Sisto, Margaret Curtis, and Sue Williams.[13]

Sillman lives in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and maintains a studio in Bushwick.[3]


Sillman began showing at the Brent Sikkema Gallery in New York in 2000. She is represented by Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York, and shows at Capitain-Petzel in Berlin, at Thomas Dane Gallery in London, at [Campoli Presti in Paris and at Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Los Angeles. The first large scale survey of her work, curated by Helen Molesworth, premiered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston in October 2013. The exhibition will also travel to the Aspen Art Museum and the Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture at Bard College.[14] Her solo show “Third Person Singular,” the exhibition of a year-long project of portraiture and abstract painting, was on view at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and travelled to the Tang Museum at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, New York, until 2009.[15]


Sillman’s paintings are in the permanent collections of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston,[16] the Art Institute of Chicago,[17] Museum of Modern Art,[18] Whitney Museum of American Art[19] in New York, the Brooklyn Museum,[20] the Baltimore Museum of Art,[21] as well as private collections including the collection of CJ Follini and Renee Ryan.[22]


In 1995, the same year she received an MFA from Bard College, Sillman was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship in painting and the Elaine de Kooning Memorial Fellowship in 1995.[23] In 1999 she received fellowships from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation and the Joan Mitchell Foundation, and in 2000 was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2012, as part of the fifth anniversary of the Brooklyn Museum’s Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, the museum presented Sillman with the First Award, a prize given to 15 women who were first in their fields.[24]

Amy Sillman was a Guna S. Mundheim Fellow in the Visual Arts at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany, during the Spring of 2009.[25] During the fall of 2010, she was a Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University. In May 2011, the Montserrat College of Art awarded Amy Sillman an honorary doctoral degree in fine arts.[26]


  1. ^ "ICA The Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston Amy Sillman: one lump or two". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Wolff, Rachel. "Amy Sillman". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  3. ^ a b Ted Loos (September 26, 2013), Blobs and Slashes, Interrupted by Forms New York Times.
  4. ^ "Amy Sillman Faculty Page, Bard College". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  5. ^ Zullo, Dana. "Amy Sillman Biographical Summary Crown Point Press". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  6. ^ Berry, Ian. Berry, Ian; Ellegood, Anne, eds. "Ugly Feelings" in Amy Sillman: Third Person Singular. p. 18. ISBN 978-0976572350. 
  7. ^ Wolff, Rachel. "Amy Silman". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  8. ^ Quaytman, R. H. "Amy Sillman (BOMB Artists in Coversation)". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  9. ^ a b c Molesworth, Helen (2013). Amy Sillman: one lump or two. DelMonico Books. pp. 45–82. ISBN 978-3791353074. 
  10. ^ Aviglos, Jan (Summer 2006). Artforum International 44 (10). 
  11. ^ Loos, Ted. "Blobs and Slashes, Interrupted by Forms". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  12. ^ "Amy Sillman, Crown Point Press". Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Roberta Smith (June 17, 1994), Art in Review New York Times.
  14. ^ Amy Sillman Sikkema Jenkins & Co., New York.
  15. ^ Amy Sillman American Academy in Berlin.
  16. ^ "Collections Search | Museum of Fine Arts, Boston". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  17. ^ "Sillman, Amy - The Art Institute of Chicago". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "MoMA - The Collection - Amy Sillman". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  19. ^ "Whitney Museum of American Art: Amy Sillman". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Brooklyn Museum: Amy Sillman". Brooklyn Museum: Amy Sillman. Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  21. ^ Clarkson, Anna J. "Contemporary Art Department Records" (PDF). Retrieved 7 March 2015. 
  22. ^ "FineArtViews". Retrieved 30 November 2013. 
  23. ^ "Amy Sillman". Artnet. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  24. ^ Melanie Ryzik (March 12, 2012), Brooklyn Museum to Honor ‘First’ Women New York Times.
  25. ^ "Guna S. Mundheim Visual Arts Fellow, Class of Spring 2009". American Academy in Berlin. Retrieved March 12, 2012. 
  26. ^ Commencement 2011:

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