The Shape of Shape Artist’s Choice: Amy Sillman at MoMA

Amy Sillman’s “Artist’s Choice” The Shape of Shape (on view through June 7, 2020) is the latest in a series ongoing since 1989, which gives artists the opportunities to curate from MoMA’s collection.

In focusing on shape, Sillman’s criteria for curatorial inclusion was expanded in a direction that permitted a wide breadth of works to be shown together.

Many of the pieces selected are works not often placed on display. Sculptures and paintings are juxtaposed on tiered steps, where placement easily permits appreciation of congruence with a neighbor.

Fernand Léger
French, 1881–1955
The Mirror 1925 Oil on canvas
Nina and Gordon Bunshaft Bequest, 1994

Nonetheless, the works on their own also merit examination. Duchamp’s Female Fig Leaf is one such example. I will just leave an image of it here.

Marcel Duchamp
American, born France. 1887–1968
Female Fig Leaf 1950 Electroplated copper over plaster
Gift of Jasper Johns, 1998
Background:
Helen Frankenthaler
American, 1928–2011
Commune 1969 Acrylic on canvas
Foreground:
Jasper Johns
American, born 1930
Painting Bitten by a Man 1961
Encaustic on canvas mounted on type plate
Gift of Jasper Johns in memory of Kirk Varnedoe, Chief Curator of the Department of Painting and Sculpture, 1989–2001, 2007
VALIE EXPORT
Austrian, born 1940
Encirclement from the series Body Configurations 1976
Gelatin silver print with red ink
Carl Jacobs Fund, 2011

Love the way Export’s piece echoes the setup of the exhibition itself – a horseshoe shape.

Chris Ofili
British, born 1968
The Raising of Lazarus 2007 Oil and charcoal on canvas
Hillman Periodicals Fund (by exchange), 2016

From languid and amorphous to sharp-edged, all shapes have a place in this exhibition. Geometry and bright colors may draw the eye, but the unique placement of the works in a horseshoe-shaped space with layers of overlapping two- and three-dimensional work creates a rich and inviting experience where resonances between all the pieces can be savored.

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